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Cause and Effect of the Forsworn Rebellion

  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.

    The Forsworn, also known as the Witchmen of high Rock, were an early pre-Nord Empire civilization of Bretons that dwelt within the hold known as the Reach. These Bretons had their own pantheon of gods as well as their own unique stratified society. When the Nords overtook the realm they treated it as any other conquered territory, subjecting the native population to harsh treatment as a conquered people. It's little surprise that in 4E 174 they took advantage of the Great War to overthrew their Nordic rulers.

    What's often neglected and is certainly not apparent in the game's scope is that for those two years the foresworn allegedly governed peacefully and fairly. There were some reprisals against the upper echelon of Nord power comprising of the landed nobility and task masters but the majority of the Nord population was unmolested. In fact, by 176 the Forsworn had entered into peace negotiations with the Empire hoping to be recognized as an independent Kingdom under the aegis of the Imperials.

    Before any treaty could be concluded, Ulfric raised a militia and stormed Markarth. It was done without imperial assistance for the express reason that the Imperials were awaiting official changing of the guard that would allow them back in the region without provoking violence. Not to mention they were at a dangerously low level of skilled individuals after leeching veterans to Hammerfell and taking excessive losses during the course of the Great War. Ulfric's unilateral action was an unexpected complication and thus the Legion was not mobilized either to assist Ulfric's militia (this was far before the Stormcloaks came into being) or to intervene on behalf of the Bretons.

    The siege was disastrous for the Forsworn. The entirety of the civil administration was executed despite the official surrender; women were tortured into giving up the locations of fighters who had fled into the countryside or were hiding within the city; and those who did not initially aid Ulfric's forces when the gates were breached, regardless of race or age, were slain. Thus the survivors of the city will likely have an intrinsic bias against the Forsworn despite the elapsed period of 25 years.

    In order to quickly transfer rule from the local Nord militia to the Legion the Empire allowed Talos worship despite it violating the White Gold Concordat. This was done entirely to stem the militia pogroms. As such there seems to be a general air of social decapitation present. The upper echelons and lawmakers were killed during the insurrection leaving only the embittered 'berserker' cults of Forsworn.

    The sources are both from Imperial books (The Bear of Markarth, The “Madmen” of the Reach), thus like the Rising Threat series they could very well be interpreted as propaganda pieces. However, as we don't know the publish dates it's hard to tell, on the other hand there is in-game corroborative evidence at least for Nord excesses.

    Perhaps the greatest irony is that it was a marked precursor to the Stormcloak rebellion: an antiquated realm conquered by an occupying power whose people chafed under the yoke of perceived ill-treatment. The occupying authority changed their customs and eliminated the local deities calling them heretical. Thus a rebellion was spawned between two opposing powers, native and long standing overlords, while a third 'over-seeing' faction with some nominal power watched the situation unfold. There's even the slant of rebels retaliating against their 'illegitimate masters'.

    While the Forsworn rebellion has already played out there is a significant parallel between its events and those of the Stormcloak rebellion that merits a closer inspection.

  • October 26, 2014

    It is pretty ironic.

  • May 16, 2018

    So I'm kind of dissapointed that I've never read this article. There were some really interesting ideas about the Forsworn that I'd never really thought of. I've never really cared much for the Forsworn, but I kinda do now. Will have to read a few more Forsworn based articles now.

  • May 16, 2018

    Check out these vids DB they are both quite informative on Forsworn. Do you know about the Reachmen Emperor? - Durcorach the Black Drake - Elder Scrolls Lore. And this one Skyrim - 5 Forsworn Facts - Elder Scrolls Lore. Hope that helps :)