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Heraldry of the Imperial Legion as seen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

"Long live the emperor! Long live the Empire!"
―The Legion's Oath[src]

The Imperial Legion, Imperial Army[1], or Ruby Ranks[2] is the main armed force of the Reman Empire and the Third Empire of Cyrodiil, and is a large military organization in The Elder Scrolls universe.


Based on the concept of the Roman military, the Imperial Legion similarly proclaims itself to be the most disciplined and effective military & police force in history, and that it preserves the peace and rule of law in the Empire.[3] In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the Nerevarine may join the Legion, perform tasks for them, and eventually rise in rank up to the highest one, the "Knight of the Imperial Dragon". While playing heavily into the previous installment of the series, Morrowind's sequel, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, featured the Legion, yet gave the Hero of Kvatch no opportunity to sign up as a legionnaire. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Dragonborn can join the Legion regardless of who they sided with in "Unbound." The Legion also captured and attempted to behead the Dragonborn upon entering Skyrim, beginning the game, because they believe that they are affiliated with the Stormcloaks, along with Lokir, Ralof, and Ulfric Stormcloak.[4]


First EraEdit

Alessian EmpireEdit

The predecessor to the Imperial Legions were the Alessian Legions.[5][6] These Legions were led by Morihaus during their siege of the White-Gold Tower against the Ayleids.[7]

Reman EmpireEdit

Blackwater WarEdit

During the First Era, the Imperial Legion existed as part of the Reman Empire.[2] A notable war in the First Era called the Blackwater War erupted around 1E 2811, during which the Fourth Legion attempted to take and maintain control over Black Marsh.[8] Their Argonian opponents, however, were easily able to use the Legion's ineffective equipment and tactics in the swamps to their advantage.[9]

By 1E 2820, the forces in Black Marsh had been destroyed.[10] By 1E 2823, the Legion had adapted to Black Marsh's climate with more fitting equipment and tactics.[11] In 1E 2828, the Legion accidentally started a massive fire known as the "Great Burn," which destroyed a significant portion of the province during its three-year rampage, again forcing the Legion to retreat.[12] However, by 1E 2837 the Legion had won the war and officially claimed Black Marsh for the Empire.[13]

Second EraEdit

Three Banners WarEdit

During the Alliance War, the Imperial Legion was mostly fighting the Daedra invading the Imperial City. Despite this, the Legions were also fighting the other alliances, mainly the Daggerfall Covenant.

In the CovenantEdit

In the lands of High Rock, the Seventh Legion held the Bangkorai Garrison, effectively blocking off half of the Bangkorai region from Covenant reinforcements.[14][15] The Legion was also making headway to capturing the city of Evermore, largely through the aid of spies and its duke, Duke Renchant, being cooperative.[16] However, this attempt failed, and in a supposed parley, Septima Tharn demanded the unconditional surrender of Evermore. Queen Arzhela tried to stab Septima in her rage, but Septima was using an illusion, after this the Seventh Legion tried to kill the Queen.[17] In this same region, they raided the Knights of Saint Pelin at Martyr's Crossing, and stole their supplies. They did this due to Martyr's Crossing being an important trade route between north- and south Bangkorai.[18] The last of the Legion's known successes is the capturing of Hallin's Stand, also in Bangkorai, due to the Hall of Heroes being located close to it.[19] Their succes is attributed due to them attacking at night and due to working with a spy.[20] High Rock wasn't the only province plagued by the Legion, in the province of Hammerfell, the Legion held Satakalaam, due to them being in league with the Withered Hand.[21]

In the DominionEdit

While nowhere near as significant as its victories against the Covenant, the Legion also held a bit of territory in Aldmeri lands. The Legion held the city of Arenthia[22] and the Vile Mans with Colovian Legions and were making headway to conqeuring Vinedusk Village.[23] Their forces used in their assault of the village were stationed in an encampment located just outside the city.[24]

In the PactEdit

Unlike the Dominion and the Covenant, the Pact was nearly untouched by the Legions' forces, with their only location being the White Rose Prison.[25]

In CyrodiilEdit

In the province of Cyrodiil, a lot of the Legion was in active duty. Legion forces were scattered across the wilds to keep an eye out for Pact, Covenant and Dominion movement. The Legions also engaged in combat with Covenant, Pact and Dominion units. Specifically, the Legion under the command of Captain Jena Apinia, who eventually fled the Imperial City when her Legion was on a break, due to the Planemeld starting.[26] In their retreat they exterminated over half of Bravil's population, due to what they considered was the only way possible to prevent the people (and soldiers) from starving,[26] while others, including Queen Ayrenn, took to calling it a massacre and labeled the Captain as a war criminal.[27] [26] The bulk of this Legion was eventually sent to retake the city,[26] adding more Legion soldiers to the fight on the Imperial Bridges, who were trying to kill Molag Bal's Daedra despite being unable to get over to the island through normal means.[28][29] In the Imperial City itself, the vast majority of Legion Zero had already betrayed the Empire, and sworn loyalty to Mannimarco and his Worm Cult, as well as Molag Bal[30], except for a handful of Legion soldiers, who made an improvised garrison in the Nobles District. In the city of Cheydinhal, a rebellion broke out, which resulted in Legion soldiers being sent to the city in order to reclaim it.

Third EraEdit

The modern Imperial Legion was born from the great army of Tiber Septim, which he used to conquer Tamriel.[citation needed] The Legion remained the greatest fighting force on Tamriel and possibly on Nirn for over 400 years after the death of Tiber.[citation needed]

The Legion fought in several wars and conflicts during the Third Era, among them the War of the Red Diamond, and they also fought in the conflict of the Camoran Usurper.[31][32]

Emperor Uriel Septim V used the Legion in his conquest of the island kingdoms between Akavir and Tamriel and for his disastrous invasion of Akavir itself, which completely killed two legions off, including the Emperor himself.

The Legion met, perhaps, its greatest trial during the Oblivion Crisis in which Oblivion Gates opened all across Tamriel, and the Legion was called to combat the Daedra.

Fourth EraEdit


A member of the Imperial Guard as seen in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

One of the noteworthy events is the Umbriel Invasion.[OOG 1] The Flying City of Umbriel, the city that devoured souls in the early Fourth Era, had a course directly for the Imperial City, and as it neared the Heartland, the Imperial Legion, along with the Synod and the College of Whispers, tried to mount several attacks upon the Flying City.[OOG 1] The Imperial Mages cast Levitation spells so the Legion could reach Umbriel.[OOG 1] Unfortunately, the Umbriel War Machine proved too great a force, and the Legionnaires were killed off before they could breach Umbriel.[OOG 1] After the Oblivion Crisis and the Umbriel Invasion, the Legion was greatly weakened, and the once great fighting force had declined greatly.[33] As to how the Legion was weaker than before is unclear.

Great WarEdit

Years later, the Aldmeri Dominion attacked the Empire in what is known as the Great War.[34] Unprepared for the vicious Aldmeri assault, the Legion suffered heavy casualties.[34] However, in the Battle of the Red Ring, the Legion surrounded and destroyed Lord Naarifin's forces stationed in the Imperial City.[34] It was a prominent victory that halted the Dominion's invasion, and gave the Empire the leverage necessary to sign the White-Gold Concordat and end the war.[33] Thirty years after, part of the Legion would be dispatched to Skyrim to stop the Stormcloak Rebellion and end the Civil War.[33]


Imperial Legion Forester

Legion Forester.

Intended as the sole militaristic force behind Cyrodiil's seat of power, the Legion operates in conjunction with the Imperial City's police-force, the Imperial Watch. Their headquarters are situated in the Imperial City.[35]

The Legion is the primary fighting force of the Cyrodilic Empires, Cyrodilic cities and towns most often have City Guards, while Nordic cities and towns have Hold Guards, which are Legion soldiers serving the counties and Holds for police duties and law enforcement in the Imperial provinces.[36][37] Imperial Soldiers also patrol the roads of the Imperial provinces,[33][35] protect nobles,[33] and are allowed to seize property of arrested criminals.[38] Under normal circumstances the Imperial City has at least one Legion stationed within.[39]


New recruits must take the oath binding them to the service of the Emperor and the Legion:

"Upon my honor I do swear undying loyalty to the Emperor...
and unwavering obedience to the officers of his great Empire.
May those above judge me, and those below take me, if I fail in my duty.
Long live the Emperor! Long live the Empire!"

Battle organization and rankingEdit


Rikke, a female Legate in Skyrim.

The Legion fights only on land. Aquatic operations are carried out by their counterpart, the Imperial Navy. To better defend against magic-using foes, the Empire employed the use of Imperial Battlemages, these battlemages form the Shadow Legion. The Legion also makes use of the Phalanx formation[40],Diamond Formation[41], Wedge Formation[42] and Shield Walls.[OOG 2]

Some sources suggest the fighting strength of the Imperial Legion: The Infernal City mentions that a Legion numbers 5,000 Legionnaires [OOG 2], and given the highest Legion mentioned is the 18th Legion, then the Imperial Legion has at least 95,000 troops when at full strength. Each Legion is further subdivided in Cohorts which are given orders by a centurion.  

As of Skyrim, the rank structure is similar to that of the historical Roman Empire. Excluding the potential recruitment of the Last Dragonborn, there are 10 Legates within the province of Skyrim.[33] Historically, a legate commanded a legion. Additionally, the rank of General actually did exist, and it was applied to someone who generally commanded more than one legion. As there is no mention of exactly how many legions were in Skyrim, the actual fighting strength of the Imperial Legion in Skyrim is, in fact, unknown.

Ranks (Morrowind)Edit

  • Recruit
  • Spearman
  • Trooper
  • Agent
  • Champion
  • Knight Errant
  • Knight Bachelor
  • Knight Protector
  • Knight of the Garland
  • Knight of the Imperial Dragon

Ranks (Skyrim)Edit

  • Auxillary
  • Private (mentioned by Captain Aldis)
  • Quaestor
  • Praefect
  • Tribune
  • Legate
  • General

Ranks (Online) Edit

  • Auxiliary
  • Private
  • Sentinel
  • Legionary
  • Dreadnaught
  • Sergeant
  • Lieutenant
  • Captain
  • General

Ranks with unknown statusEdit

Highest RankEdit

  • Commander of the Imperial Legion

Legion Ranking Stature Edit

  • Commander of the Imperial Legion
  • General
  • Captain
  • Legate
  • Lieutenant
  • Tribune
  • Sergeant
  • Dreadnaught
  • Praefect
  • Quaestor
  • Legionary
  • Sentinel
  • Private
  • Auxiliary

Types of soldiers in the LegionEdit

The Legion uses a variety of soldiers, which consist of the following units, light and heavy cavalry, heavily-armored knights, berserkers, skirmishers, archers, scouts, pikemen, troopers and foot knights.[46][47][3] The Legion also uses Battlemages and artillery.[48][49][50] During the Third Era, Imperial Battlemages also used Dragons, but it is unknown if the Legion still has any Dragons remaining.[51]

Types of armor in the LegionEdit

The Legion uses a variety of materials. Light armor is used for scouts, skirmishers, archers and light cavalry. The most common materials for light armor are fur, leather and chainmail armor, which are readily available throughout the Empire. Mithril, elven and glass are considered rare.[47] Heavy armor is used for the frontline infantry, heavy cavalry, foot knights, pikemen, troopers and officers.[3] The most common materials for heavy armor are iron and steel, with dwarven, orcish, ebony and daedric being rare.[47] The Legion uses many materials for their arms, which are listed from cheapest and least desirable, to most expensive and most desirable: iron, steel, silver, dwarven, elven, glass and daedric.[46] Enchanted weapons and armor are also used by the Legion, but since the Mages Guild was used to enchant armor, it is unknown if the Legion still uses enchanted armor.[47][46] In the event of a crisis behind enemy lines, Legion Soldiers may sell excess materials to noncombatants. These materials must not have a significant millitary application. The gold required in this manner must be used to secure swift passage back to the Legion that the soldier belongs to.[52]


The armor used by the Legion is different in between many timelines.

  • In Redguard the Legion made use of leather, chain/steel and bronze/gold/dwarven armor. These armors seem to be lighter than in the later games, most likely due to the desert climate.
  • In Online the Legion made use of iron, steel, orcish and higher tier heavy armors, most of the Legion made use of Orcish-Imperial armor. They also made use of various light and medium armors. The type of armor usually depended on the rank, location and mission the soldiers were on.
  • In Morrowind the Legion made use of a lot of steel and chain armor, while also making use of studded, dragonscale, newtscale, Templar, boiled Netch leather and Silver armors. In Morrowind the Legion's armor looks very similar to that of the Roman Legions. The armor used in Morrowind most likely got its high variety due to the Legion being on the frontier.
  • In Oblivion the Legion made use of steel plate armor. The armor looked like a combination of medieval armor and Roman armor, though the Imperial Watchmen made use of the Imperial Horseman Helmet, which looked more like a hoplite helmet. The palace guards also had more decorative armor than the normal Legion soldiers. The Legion's armor is most likely more suited for appearance than combat, due to Cyrodiil being the main province of the Empire.
  • In Legends the Legion made use of steel plate armor, more similar to the armor in The Elder Scrolls Online than the plate armor in Oblivion.
  • In Skyrim the Legions makes use of leather, studded and steel armor. The appearances of the light armors is similar to that of the Roman auxillaries in border provinces of the Roman Empire. Most of the Legion in Skyrim makes use of the light armors instead of the heavy armor, this is likely due to Skyrim's terrain. It is also likely that the soldiers in Skyrim are mostly scouts and skirmishers instead of soldiers meant for full-on combat.


As of the Fourth Era, average fighting strength of each Legion comprises of 5,000 Legionnaires.[OOG 2]

Artifacts Edit

The Imperial Legion has several artifacts, this is a list of the known artifacts.

By gameEdit


  • The Imperial Legion has had multiple different ranks commanding a Legion. In The Elder Scrolls Online: Imperial City there is a normal Legion Commander of Legion Zero. During the Blackwater War, the Fourth Legion was commanded by a General, during the Alliance War a Captain commanded a Legion and during the Great War a Legate commanded the Tenth Legion.



  1. The Wolf Queen, Book VI
  2. 2.0 2.1 Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Cyrodiil
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ordo Legionis
  4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  5. Picnic at Pelin (A Horror Story)
  6. The Royal House of King Eamond
  7. Cherim's Heart of Anequina
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Blackwater War, Volume I
  9. The Blackwater War, Volume II
  10. The Blackwater War, Volume IV
  11. The Blackwater War, Volume V
  12. The Blackwater War, Volume VI
  13. The Blackwater War, Volume VII
  14. Dialogue with Septima Tharn during The Parley
  15. Appearance of Bangkorai Garrison in The Elder Scrolls Online'
  16. Imperial Infiltration
  17. The Parley
  18. Raiders at the Crossing
  19. Regarding the Hall
  20. Dialogue with Yarah
  21. Imperial Incursion
  22. The Colovian Occupation
  23. Oath of Excision
  24. Down the Skeever Hole
  25. The Ones Left Behind
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 The Butcher of Bravil
  27. Dialogue with Razum-dar during Debts of War
  28. Dialogue with Captain Priscus
  29. Events of The Elder Scrolls Online: Imperial City'
  30. Dialogue of Legion Zero soldiers
  31. Brief History of the Empire, v 3
  32. Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Eras
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 33.6 Events and character dialogue in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 34.4 The Great War
  35. 35.0 35.1 Events and dialogue in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  36. Dialogue of the Skingrad Patroller in The Elder Scrolls: Legends'
  37. Combat dialogue with Whiterun Guards
  38. Public Notice (Oblivion)
  39. Appearance of Legion Zero in The Elder Scrolls Online: Imperial City
  40. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls P18
  41. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls P313
  42. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls P314
  43. Palace Break-In?
  44. Appearance in Imperial Forts in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  45. Imperial Condolences
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 Manual of Arms
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 47.3 Manual of Armor
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 48.3 48.4 48.5 Report: Disaster at Ionith
  49. Catapults during the Skyrim Civil War
  50. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls P91
  51. Starlover's Log
  52. Dialogue with Antonia Gratas
  53. Events of The Elder Scrolls Online: Imperial City
  54. Sanctuary: Weapons Report
  55. Attrebus' page on the Official Archived Redguard Website
  56. Ebonheart dialogue option in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  57. Intro of An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire
Notice: The following are out-of-game references. They are not found in any in-game books, but can still be considered part of The Elder Scrolls lore and are included for completeness.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls

External linksEdit

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