The High King

Discussion of Elder Scrolls lore and how it will be used in SHotN
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Yeti
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The High King

Post by Yeti » Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:14 am

Should there be a High King of Skyrim in our mod? If so, who should it be?

Here are some posts from the old forum to stimulate discussion.
I actually thought that Skyrim would always have had some high-king over all of Skyrim. TES V atleast starts with the murder of the high king of Skyrim. The first pg describes the situation in the 2nd era, the 3rd pg speaks of interrupted reigns. I simply assume that there is always a high king that is either determined by heirship or by the moot and that it's merely so that at least one hold at any time does not recognize the latters sovereignty, when it is a weak high king, a few holds will go apart until the next high king settles it or not. Just a theory though.
Yeti wrote:Nord territory is divided into nine administrated districts, called Holds. Although Jarls rule these miniature kingdoms in TESV, we’ve decided to have them ruled by Kings. These monarchs oversee their sovereign territory, working closely with Imperial officials to administer the area. They are largely autonomous from one another, but are vassals of the High King, who is meant to represent the province as a whole.

The High King typically inherits the throne by birth and rules for life until abdication. In the event that no direct heir to the throne exists, the nine Holds hold a moot, or vote, on whom the next High King should be. When there is a clear legitimate heir, the Moot still meets and votes on a successor, but this is more a ceremonial formality than anything else. The Pact of Chieftains, a meeting between Nord leaders after the disastrous War of Succession, made sure that the outcome of the vote would never be in dispute when a direct heir available. Every High King swears fealty to the Emperor and occupies a seat on the Elder Council.

As far as I can tell, nothing is known about the High King of Skyrim at the time of our mod. He’s basically a blank slate who we can do practically anything with. Likewise, we have a lot of room deciding how influential he actually has in the politics of the province. Although the High King in TESV seems to be a person of some authority, I kind of like the idea of making the High King of our era more of a figurehead than anything else. His power to make major province-wide decisions on his own is effectively neutered by the central government of the Emperor. Although he might be able to assert his authority in the Fourth Era when the Empire is on the brink of collapse, this is the Third Era, and the Septim’s are still solidly in control. I also kind of like the idea of the Kings of the nine Holds intentionally electing weak rulers to the throne of the High King, in order to preserve their own independence.

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roerich
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Re: The High King

Post by roerich » Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:44 am

I'm not too fond of the idea. A high king without power just isn't what I associate with the concept. I thought high kings rose when someone was sufficiently powerful and able to take that title and fight for it. I don't see it as a puppet monarch or a purely administrative title, or something that's always there. High king shouldn't be president of the united kingdoms of Skyrim, high king should be someone wielding terrifying power. Again, I don't think we should follow TES V on this, but I'll need to read up on my PGE's (although we should remember that PGE's are Imperial propaganda to the core).

But that's just my two drakes, no one's saying I'm right on this.

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Fiore1300
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Re: The High King

Post by Fiore1300 » Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:09 am

If I can add to the discussion, I'd like to say that there is no drama in a powerless High King. Nor is there any drama in one with absolute power. Conveniently, either extreme is also impossible given what we know about the province.

A High King is, primarily, an instrument of the Empire's will. They're the native face with a foreign agenda. At the same time, they're also their province's chief advocate within the Empire. They have the Emperor's ear whenever new policy that may affect their province is considered. Those facts alone imbue the position with a significant amount of institutional power, regardless of how strong or weak their personal character is.

The High King finds his/her power through her singular position. As an authority respected by the entire province, they are an efficient lever for imperial control. Its easier to maintain the loyalty of one ruler than manage the loyalties of a mob. In fact, they're so useful that in provinces where an equivalent position didn't already exist, such as Black Marsh and Morrowind, the Empire installed a High King to cement their power structure. And while these manufactured positions wouldn't have the benefit of being universally acknowledged and respected, their keystone nature as both imperial envoy and provincial advocate grants kings like Helseth considerable influence.

With regards to the identity of the High King himself/herself, I do have a suggestion. A while back, I was doing research on the Septim family when I came across evidence that Emperor Cephorus II was, quite possibly, the descendant of Jolethe Septim, sister of Pelagius III and daughter of Magnus Septim. You can read more about that here, but the gist of things is that a dynasty closely related to the Septims rules out of Solitude. This helpfully explains some things (like why the High King was ruling out of Solitude in TES V) but raises issues with others (like why the Solitude dynasty didn't claim the Imperial throne post-Oblivion Crisis).

In any case, you couldn't find a better candidate for High King than one with a familial connection to the imperial household. During Morrowind's timeframe, this would suggest King Thian or his immediate predecessor. His penchant for seizing Imperial territories like Roscrea (and probably Solstheim, although this could be attributed to rival Winterhold) could present a problem with this position. Then again, having Septim blood might be his claim to such territories, or garner apathy from the Imperial City (who seem to have never responded to Nordic aggressions on imperial territory at the end of the Third Era, though its not difficult to account for why).
"My condolences to the citizens of Mold." -Gnomey

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roerich
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Re: The High King

Post by roerich » Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:44 pm

Thanks for your input! Do note that you're replying to a two year old thread, and things might've changed since then. I agree about your point about the role of a High King, but I think the tradition predates the first Cyrodiilic Empire.

And Thian is definitely poised to be or become High King in our plans for the main questline. We have done a lot of planning in that direction, including taking part in the annexation of Roscrea, and the political powerplay that is the foundation of Thian's rise.

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Fiore1300
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Re: The High King

Post by Fiore1300 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:47 am

Yes, I, uh, tooootally realized this topic was over 2 years old. Heh...

And yes, the office definitely predates the Empire. But the Empire co-ops it for its own purposes and it has a different role. I suspect the High King of Hammerfell, Valenwood, and Summerset were likewise co-oped by the imperial system.

Glad to hear you guys have this sorted out. Do you guys have design documents like Tamriel Rebuilt where people can get an updated view of where lore development is at? Or is that reserved for team members? I would like to contribute more but I don't want to retread old topics.
"My condolences to the citizens of Mold." -Gnomey

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roerich
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Re: The High King

Post by roerich » Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:44 am

I agree very much with that. We don't have any design documents in a finished state. I have my own notes, which will get collected some time.

Feel free to join us at Discord: https://discord.gg/H43E8G6 The talk and conceptualization is usually flowing more free there, than what appears here on the forum.

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