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.
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. 
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.
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. 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..
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.
- 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.
- Housecarls or personal bodyguards protect the Jarl at all times, although the Hold Guards also possess this responsibility.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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".
|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|
- "The Bear of Eastmarch", Jarl of Windhelm. Ulfric Stormcloak's father.
- Elgryr the Unminded, Jarl of Windhelm sometime during the Second Era.
- Istlod, Jarl of Solitude. Torygg's father.
- Hanse, Jarl of Winterhold.
- Hosgunn Crossed-Daggers, Jarl of Riften.
- Hrolfdir, Jarl of Markarth. Igmund's father.
- Olaf One-Eye, Jarl of Whiterun.
- Torygg, Jarl of Solitude. Elisif's late husband.
- Valdimar, Jarl of Winterhold during the Great Collapse.
- 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.
- ↑ Butts, Steve. Skyrim Preview.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Gameplay from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- ↑ Skyrim's Rule
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Dialogue with Ulfric Stormcloak
- ↑ Thalmor Dossier: Ulfric Stormcloak
- ↑ The Windhelm Letters
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Dialogue with Sybille Stentor
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Skyrim
- ↑ Of Crossed Daggers
- ↑ Dialogue with Jarl Igmund
- ↑ Olaf and the Dragon
- ↑ On the Great Collapse