This question has been disputed quite often. Some theories say he's supposed to be the Dovahkiin, some say he is Vahlok the Jailor, others say he is Miraak, but none of these theories really have much evidence backing them.
So who is Konahrik? Was he just some random Dragon Priest, or possibly no one at all?
To make a long answer short, I've come up with a fun little theory that the Archmagus Shalidor was Konahrik.
This blog will take into account the many deeds of Shalidor. Some are considered to be just legend or extended truths; but as I see it, legends are normally true in TES.
What we know about Shalidor
What is "considered" to be legend
Obviously every theory needs evidence so here is what I got...
Shalidor's relation with Bromjunaar
We all know that the Archmagus Shalidor was the person who built the ancient Labyrinthian as a supposed testing ground for aspiring Archmages, but why did he build it there?
If you didn't know, the Labyrinthian is actually built on top of the even older forgotten city of Bromjunaar. Bromjunaar was the ancient capitol of the Dragon Cult and meeting place of the Dragon Priests of Skyrim. It is also the home of the mask this theory is based around. So why exactly did Shalidor build his Labyrinthian here? I doubt it is easy to build ontop of the rubble of a decaying city. Couldn't he have just built his maze in some other remote location? I will explain this later.
Shalidor's Obsession with Dragons
Where did I get this evidence? From Shalidor's own notes.
At first glance Shalidor's Insights appears to be just random unreadable wriings that Bethesda just added in as filler. But if you look into it more it can be discovered that many of the arcane scribblings are actually translatable and almost all of them translate to something related to Dragons or more specifically, Alduin. Some are even excerpts from what should be future books (if we base it off the date the Rourken Clan traveled to Volenfell and fought with Shalidor 1E 420) such as...
"The third song of King Wulfharth tells of his death. Orkey, an enemy god, had always tried to ruin the Nords, even in Atmora where he stole their years away. Seeing the strength of King Wulfharth, Orkey summoned the ghost of Alduin Time-Eater again. Nearly every Nord was eaten down to six years old. Boy Wulfharth pleaded to Shor, the dead Chieftain of the Gods, to help his people."
Alduin (World Eater): Alduin is the Nordic variation of Akatosh, and only superficially resembles his counterpart in the Nine Divines. For example, Alduin's sobriquet, 'the world eater', comes from myths that depict him as the horrible, ravaging firestorm that destroyed the last world to begin this one.
Shalidor's Large Lifespan
Well it is known that Shalidor probably founded the city of Winterhold, a good question would be when was the city founded?
"when I was here it wasn't so... crumbly. This used to be a city."
Then that places Winterhold's founding around the very early First or very late Merethic Eras. How is this possible if Shalidor battled the Rourken Clan in 1E 420? Which could place him as potentially being over 400 years old.
And if he could be this old, who's to say he isn't older? Dating to the Merethic Era perhaps... And what could have caused his lifespan to be so long?
This brings be to my next point
While many of Shalidor's deeds are believed to be hyperbole, we can't rule out the probability that they are true.
One of the most eccentric of Shalidor's deeds is the Glamoril...
According to legend, Shalidor stole from Akatosh the very "secret to life", which in the old Aldmeri tounge, means "Glamoril"; and that the true reason Shalidor built the Labyrinthian was to hide the Glamoril.
Now that might seem very strange but let's look deeper into this. We do know that Shalidor did seem to study Alduin quite a bit, Alduin of course being extremely related to Akatosh, sometimes even being considered the same thing. We also know that according to this quote form the handy-dandy Skyrim load screens...
That the masks of Dragon Priests held very strange powers, that can even "defy the laws of time" (Akatosh), and as it seems... the mask of Konahrik was quite well hidden, being lost in time and all.
Now let's look at this legend in a different way
What if this "secret of life" was actually a way of reaching immortality by defying the very laws of Aka's time. This is supported by the fact that Shalidor's Insights contains excerpts from future books, and that Konahrik was kept in it's own literal time capsule. Could Glamoril actually be Konahrik, and if this legend of Glamoril is true then is it hard to believe that the other legends of Shalidor aren't as false as they seem? Bringing me to my next point.
Shalidor's Immense Power
Now that we know the legend of Glamoril is possibly true, we can see that Shalidor's deeds may not be as exaggerated as the previously seemed.
So it does seem possible that Shalidor built Labyrinthian by himself. Especially when we take heed of the fact that there is very little info surrounding Shalidor (implying he was possibly often issolated) and how the Labyrinthian's location was strangely lost by the Third Era. Obviously Shalidor couldn't create an entire city himself but it does seem likely that Shalidor created the College of Winterhold when seeing a partial similarity between the Icy forgotten Midden and Shalidor's Fortress of Ice.
So how could a Nord, a race not known for it's magic capabilities, be such a legendary and accomplished mage? The only extremely powerful Nordic mages that come from the time period of the very Late Mythic - very Early First Eras are the Dragon Priests (excluding Harkon who kind of cheated). For this reason I believe that Shalidor must have been a Dragon Priest, which is supported by his likely large life-span that could date him to the Merethic Era, his connection to the ancient city of Bromjunaar, and his obsession with Dragons.
What We've Learned
- Shalidor has a connection with the Dragon cult city of Bromjunaar
- Shalidor studied Dragons and Alduin extensively.
- Shalidor seems to have some ability to warp time (books from the future), connecting him with Dragon Priest masks.
- Shalidor is very old
- Konahrik (the mask) is most likely the Glamoril
- Shalidor was probably a Dragon Priest
Here is how I believe it went down. Warning: This theory of mine shouldn't be taken 100% seriously as I would sort of consider it my head-canon.
Shalidor was the most powerful and dedicated of the Dragon Priests and for this, he was awarded the mask Konahrik from Alduin the World-Eater, the strongest of the masks able to warp time itself. After the defeat of Alduin and the Dragon Cult, Shalidor rather than wait and die like the other Priests,[proof 1] left Bromjunaar and went into hiding in Winter-Hold.[proof 2] With the mask's time warping ability Shalidor was practically immortal,[proof 3] he built his Fortress of Ice out of the Winter-Hold glaciers and took up residence.[proof 4] In this place where he slowly began realizing the error of his ways as a Dragon Priest and the dangers the Dragon Priest masks had on sanity (Just look at poor King Otar).[proof 5] He eventually left the Fortress of Ice and began building the Midden, and possibly the beginnings of what would later be the College of Winterhold.[proof 6]
People eventually discovered Shalidor, and around the "proto-college", they began forming the city of Winterhold.[proof 7] Shalidor, knowing first hand the dangers of magic,[proof 8] decided that magic should not be used commonly and its practice should be more organized; so he turned his construction into the College of Winterhold.[proof 9] Shalidor would eventually abandon the college and make Gauldur the Arch-Mage sometime during the reign of High King Harald.[proof 10] He then traveled back to the now ruined and abandoned Bromjunaar and began building his most notable creation, the Labyrinthian to hold his mask, that people now call Glamoril,[proof 11] as he now considered it an extreme danger.[proof 12] Shalidor used the masks own power to lock it away in time and created the Wooden Mask as the only key to get into that time-capsule.[proof 13] He would stay in Labyrinthian and use it as a testing ground for future Archmages.[proof 14] As we see in ESO, his eventual disappearance was due to him building his own pocket-realm.[proof 15]
- ↑ All that evidence I posted above about Shalidor being a Dragon Priest
- ↑ Fort 'o' Ice is in Winterhold
- ↑ Dragon Priest masks warp time as said above
- ↑ The Fortress of Ice was made in Winterhold (Skyrim Hold) and though The Elder Scrolls: Arena graphics are terrible my guess is it was made of ice.
- ↑ Otar the Mad is the best proof but it seems to be that almost all priests went mad with power save for Vahlok (the one without a mask)
- ↑ Because of the Midden's relation to the Fortress of Ice, and the legend Shalidor built Winterhold
- ↑ Shalidor founded the city of Winterhold
- ↑ Remember those quests to get master level destruction spells; and that warning from Shalidor... Also this A Minor Maze
- ↑ A Minor Maze
- ↑ Lost Legends
- ↑ As stated in section "Glamoril"
- ↑ That business stated in #5
- ↑ Head-Canon... Sue me
- ↑ We all know this
- ↑ Events of The Elder Scrolls Online
...So what do you think?