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Jarl Balgruuf the Greater, of Whiterun.

Each of the nine Holds of Skyrim are governed by a Jarl. The Jarls are largely independent, but they swear fealty to Skyrim's High King. The Jarl is the official in charge of the local Hold, controlling the local Hold Guard and regulating trade.[1]


The position of Jarl is hereditary, passing from parent to their first-born child. Daughters are equal in the line of succession, as Idgrod the Younger of Morthal clearly states that she is to inherit the office of Jarl from her mother, Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone. Dowagers may inherit the title from their deceased spouses. [2]

Elder Council

The Jarls of Skyrim may be part of the Elder Council. As part of the Elder Council, they have the power to legislate for the entire Empire. In the absence for a legitimate heir of the Emperor, the Elder Council rules in the Emperor's stead. If there is no legitimate heir for a Jarl, the Elder Council chooses a suitable replacement Jarl to rule.

High King

The High King or High Queen is the leader of Skyrim. The High King or Queen typically inherits the throne by birth and rules for life or until abdication.[citation needed] In the event that no direct heir to the throne exists, a specially convened council of all the Jarls, called the Moot, meet with the express purpose of choosing Skyrim's High King.[3].


Each Jarl elects a cabinet of officials to assist them with governing their Hold:

  • Stewards control public relations and are often approached about business, civil disputes, and the purchasing of property, instead of approaching the Jarl directly.[2]
  • Court Wizards serve as the Jarl's specialist on arcane knowledge, though it is very rare for Court Wizards to be involved in the court, instead focusing on their experiments. It is also rare for Court Wizards to change with a regime, as demonstrated throughout the Civil War questline.[2]
  • Housecarls or personal bodyguards protect the Jarl at all times, although the Hold Guards also possess this responsibility.[2]
  • Thanes appointed by the Jarl are also considered members of the Court. They are often nobles who serve the Jarl as advisors and councilors. However, Thanes are not a necessary part of a Hold's government.[2]
  • Hold Guard Captains are men put in command of the Hold Guard. They, along with the Hold Guards, are charged with upholding the law and defending the Hold from attack.[2]

Granting titles

Since the Jarl is the head of the court, he or she can grant the title of Thane to the Dragonborn, but first they need to prove themselves before being granted the honor and title of Thane. Thanes are also members of the Jarl's Court. The number of Thanes a Hold has varies largely depending on its size.[2]

Residence and apparel

Jarls reside in lavish palaces in the main cities of the holds in which they govern. There, they sit upon the throne, surrounded by their subjects. Jarls also wear specific coronets, similar to circlets, with the exception of Ulfric Stormcloak and Idgrod Ravencrone. Jarls from all holds wear Noble Clothes, a set of which can be found on a shelf in the East Empire Company Warehouse.[2]

Form of address

As a title, Jarls are addressed to as Jarl (Name) i.e. "What do you say on this matter, Jarl Ulfric?" The full name is not required when addressing to a Jarl. The "J" is pronounced as a "Y", as in the word "Yacht".[2]


During the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the province is in a civil war so the Jarls may change throughout the game depending on which side the Dragonborn chooses.

Hold Initial Jarl Post-Civil War Jarl (depends on side chosen)
Haafingar Jarl Elisif the Fair - both sides, initially Imperial
Hjaalmarch Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone - Imperial Jarl Sorli the Builder - Stormcloak
The Reach Jarl Igmund - Imperial Jarl Thongvor Silver-Blood - Stormcloak
Falkreath Hold Jarl Siddgeir - Imperial Jarl Dengeir of Stuhn - Stormcloak
Whiterun Hold Jarl Balgruuf the Greater - Neutral initially, Imperial Jarl Vignar Gray-Mane - Stormcloak
The Pale Jarl Skald the Elder - Stormcloak Jarl Brina Merilis - Imperial
The Rift Jarl Laila Law-Giver - Stormcloak Jarl Maven Black-Briar - Imperial
Winterhold Jarl Korir - Stormcloak Jarl Kraldar - Imperial
Eastmarch Ulfric Stormcloak - Stormcloak Jarl Brunwulf Free-Winter - Imperial

Other Jarls


  • Jarl is a historical title from Norse culture and is comparable to the Earls of Anglo-Saxon peerage.
  • Alternative names for the Jarl rank in the nobility structure are used in other parts of Tamriel, such as Count in the province of Cyrodiil or Councilor in the province of Morrowind.
  • In Norse mythology, Jarl was the name of the third of the first three men created by the god Heimdallr. He represented the noble class, with the other two being Thrall, the slave or serf, and Karl (or "Carl", as in "housecarl"), the free man.

See also


Start a Discussion Discussions about Jarl

  • Which Hold Would You Choose And Why?

    16 messages
    • Well my first choice, as an imperial and Legion Legate, would be Haafingar It's actually a good trading hub because of its natural harb...
    • wrote: BlastWrecker29 wrote: 1:  Haafinger (Solitude). The capital of Skyrim,  it is home to the Bards College, East Emp...
  • Who do you think is the best Jarl and why?

    20 messages
    • Hunteazer wrote: wrote:Ulfric is far too racist for me to ever get behind. He seems more power-hungry and "only Nords ...
    • I know it's a bit confusing. Sorry.