Elder Scrolls

Imperial Legion

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

The Imperial Legion is the main armed force of the Reman Empire, the Septim Empire, and the Mede Empire of Cyrodiil. It is also 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 force in history, and that it preserves the peace and rule of law in the Empire. 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.


First EraEdit

Blackwater WarEdit

During the First Era, the Imperial Legion existed as part of the Reman Empire.[1] 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.[2] Their Argonian opponents, however, were easily able to use the Legion's ineffective equipment and tactics in the swamps to their advantage.[3]

By 1E 2820, the forces in Black Marsh had been destroyed.[4] By 1E 2823, the Legion had adapted to Black Marsh's climate with more fitting equipment and tactics.[5] 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.[6] However, by 1E 2837 the Legion had won the war and officially claimed Black Marsh for the Empire.[7]

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.[8][9]

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, the fall of the Septim Empire, and the Umbriel Invasion, the Legion was greatly weakened, and the once great fighting force had declined greatly.[10]

Years later, the Aldmeri Dominion attacked the Empire in what is known as the Great War.[11] Unprepared for the vicious Aldmeri assault, the Legion suffered heavy casualties.[11] However, in the Battle of the Red Ring, the Legion surrounded and destroyed Lord Naarifin's forces stationed in the Imperial City.[11] It was a victory such as had never been seen by men against mer since the times of Tiber Septim himself, and it gave the Empire the bargaining tools necessary to sign the White-Gold Concordat.[10] Thirty years after, part of the Legion would be dispatched to Skyrim to stop the Stormcloak Rebellion and end the Civil War.[10]


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.[12]

The Legion is the primary fighting force of the Cyrodilic Empire, however cities and towns most often have their own City Guard, and do not rely on the Legion for police duties or law enforcement. An exception to this is the Imperial City, which has an entire legion stationed in it.[citation needed]


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 formation 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 counterstrike magic foes of The Empire, the Imperial Battlemages arose.[OOG 1]

Assuming that there are only 18 legions in the Imperial Legion and a Legion numbered from around 4,200 to 6,000 troops similar to the Roman Legion[citation needed], then the Imperial Legion has anywhere from 75,600 to 108,000 troops or more if there are more Legions that are unmentioned.

As of Skyrim, the rank structure is like that of the historical Roman Empire. However, including the potential recruitment of the acclaimed Last Dragonborn, there are at least three other Legates encountered.[10] Historically, a legate commanded a legion. Since the legion that is in Skyrim is the only one in the province, only one legate could have existed. Additionally, the rank of General actually did exist, and it was applied to someone who generally commanded more than one legion.


  • Auxillary
  • Private (mentioned by Captain Aldis)
  • Quaestor
  • Praefect
  • Tribune
  • Legate
  • General
  • Commander of the Imperial Legion

Ranks with unknown statusEdit


By gameEdit



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 1.5 An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City
  2. An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls

External linksEdit

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