Lore:Ulfric Stormcloak

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Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak
SR-npc-Ulfric Stormcloak.jpg
Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak of Windhelm
Race Nord Gender Male
Reign 4E 183-
4E 201 (Player determined)
Previous Ruler Hoag Stormcloak
Resided in Windhelm
High Hrothgar
Appears in Skyrim, Legends
Ulfric Stormcloak (Legends)

Ulfric Stormcloak of the Stormcloak Clan is known as the Jarl of Windhelm and the leader of the Stormcloak Rebellion. An incredibly divisive and controversial figure, Ulfric pitted Nord against Nord in a bid for religious freedom and political independence for Skyrim.[1]


Little is known of Ulfric before 4E 176. He inherited the role of Jarl of Eastmarch from his father Hoag Stormcloak,[2] and carried on a rivalry with Jarl Balgruuf the Greater of Whiterun since they both were young. He studied under the Greybeards at High Hrothgar to learn how to use the thu'um.[1] He is branded a racist by some of his detractors because of his indifference to the situation of the Dunmer in Windhelm,[3] his order forbidding Argonians from entering the city,[4] and the perception that he only concerned himself with the problems of his Nordic subjects.[1]

Circa 4E 161, Ulfric had the great honor of being chosen by the Greybeards when he was "just a lad", and was to become a Greybeard himself. He spent almost ten years at High Hrothgar, learning the Way of the Voice with Arngeir, until the Great War came. He believes that while the Greybeards care about Skyrim's troubles in their own way, they are very disconnected from them, and he couldn't stand missing out on a chance to fight for his homeland. Ulfric believes the Way is a beautiful philosophy, but outside the seclusion of High Hrothgar, he was never able to hold to it. However, he still doesn't feel the Thu'um should be used lightly, so not all of Arngeir's lectures went to waste. Ulfric doubted Arngeir had forgiven him for leaving, and for the blasphemy of using the Thu'um for anything other than the worship of Kyne.[5]

The Great War broke out between the Aldmeri Dominion and the Empire in the latter half of 4E 171.[6] According to Thalmor documents, Ulfric was captured by the Dominion early in the conflict and interrogated by Elenwen, who later became First Emissary to Skyrim.[7] Through this interrogation, they learned his importance, and he yielded information which they then convinced him had been essential in their seizing of the Imperial City, though the city had actually fallen before he gave up the information.[7] They eventually allowed him to escape.[7]

The Reachmen, a race native to the Reach,[8] seized the opportunity provided by the Great War to rebel and establish their own kingdom in the Reach in 4E 174.[9] The Great War ended one year later with the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, which, among other things, banned the worship of Talos in the Empire.[6] The Reachmen had purportedly spent two years successfully governing themselves in relative peace, and began the process of being formally recognized by the Empire as a legitimate and independent kingdom.[9] Desperate to regain control of the Reach, Jarl Hrolfdir accepted the aid of a Nord militia led by Ulfric to reclaim the hold from the native Reachmen, in exchange for permitting the free worship of Talos in Markarth.[9][10] Hrolfdir, the Jarl of Markarth, promised religious freedom to the militia, hoping that the Thalmor wouldn't find out about the arrangement.[10] However, by this time, Ulfric was purportedly acting as an asset for the Thalmor.[7]

The Markarth Incident[edit]

Ulfric led the militia to recapture the Reach, in what would become known as the Markarth Incident, during which numerous warcrimes were commited.[9][11] It is rumored that Ulfric used the thu'um to achieve this victory,[12] and he ultimately overthrew and captured the Forsworn leader, Madanach. When Markarth was returned to Imperial control, the free worship of Talos there was officially permitted, a condition Ulfric demanded before he agreed to cede control of the city.[9] Until then, the Imperial Legion had been largely ignoring Talos worship in Skyrim and Jarl Hrolfdir hoped the Thalmor would not find out about it.[10] Eventually, word reached the Thalmor, who sent a contingent of agents to Markarth to personally demand Ulfric's arrest.[13] Seeing no other option, Jarl Hrolfdir ordered Ulfric's arrest, ultimately reneging on the agreement.[9][14][10] Ulfric believed the emperor was the one behind his arrest,[5] thus the incident was a key factor in bringing about the Stormcloak Rebellion. Following the incident, Ulfric reportedly became uncooperative to direct contact with the Thalmor, and he was eventually deemed by them to be a dormant asset.[7]

The Rebellion, The Civil War and Torygg's Death[edit]

Ulfric's Zealot, as seen in Legends

Following the Markarth Incident, Ulfric was arrested. His father Hoag Stormcloak, The Bear of Eastmarch, died in 4E 183[15] while Ulfric was imprisoned, and Ulfric delivered his eulogy via a letter that he had smuggled out of prison.[5] He was eventually set free and returned to Windhelm, where he took his father's place as Jarl.[5] It wasn't long before Ulfric's rebellion began, which at first was composed of minor skirmishes.[16] Despite his enmity toward Ulfric, Jarl Balgruuf of Whiterun initially refused to take a side on the resulting war.[17] Upon the death of High King Istlod, the Moot was convened, even in the middle of the civil war, and formally named Istlod's son Torygg as the new High King.[18]

Though the Moot only convenes as a formality when a High King dies with a direct heir,[19] Ulfric used the forum to voice his desire for independence from the Empire. Torygg knew Ulfric as a war hero and respected him, and the daring he displayed during the Moot further impressed the younger Nord.[18] Some time after Torygg's ascendance to the throne, and after years of civil war,[20][16] Ulfric traveled to Solitude to see the young High King. Torygg and his court believed Ulfric had come to request an audience and further discuss his desire for Skyrim's independence, and welcomed him. By the time they realized Ulfric was there to challenge Torygg, it was too late to stop it.[18] Under ancient Nordic traditions, Torygg had no choice but to accept Ulfric's challenge for the throne, lest he risk losing face for an act of cowardice, which would lead to a recall of the Moot and likely his deposition as High King.[18]

Accounts differ on what happened next. According to Ulfric, he knocked Torygg to the ground with the thu'um, then finished him with a sword.[5] Rumors circled among the people that Ulfric's shout literally tore the young High King apart.[1][21] Ulfric's supporters claimed that Torygg was a traitor to his people who deserved to die.[21] Ulfric's detractors insist that there was nothing honorable about his challenge, and they view Torygg's death as unforgivable murder. Additionally, Torygg was of a young age with limited martial training, while Ulfric was a grizzled war veteran wielding the power of the thu'um.[18] According to Sybille Stentor, the Court Wizard of Solitude who had helped raise Torygg, the young High King might have given Ulfric's request to emancipate Skyrim from the Empire serious consideration, as he held Ulfric in high esteem.[18] Ulfric used his victory as proof that backing the Empire made Skyrim weak, claiming the province would be better off without the Empire's support.[5]

Sundered, Kingless, Bleeding[edit]

Ulfric's soul in Sovngarde

Ulfric managed to evade capture and fled back to Windhelm, to continue his rebellion. At this point the jarls of the Rift, Winterhold, and the Pale supported him while the jarls of the Reach, Falkreath and Hjaalmarch supported the Empire's claimant, Jarl Elisif the Fair of Haafingar, the widow of High King Torygg. Initially, Dengeir of Stuhn, the Jarl of Falkreath, supported Ulfric, but he was replaced by his nephew, Siddgeir, who favored the Empire.[1]

Eventually, in 4E 201, Ulfric and a small company of his bodyguards were captured by General Tullius in an ambush while en route to Darkwater Crossing a few months after Torygg's death.[20] They surrendered,[20] Ulfric was gagged, and they were brought to Helgen for execution.[22] However, a surprise attack by the ancient dragon Alduin devastated the town.[22] Ulfric exploited the chaos to escape, to the pleasure of the Thalmor, who wished for Ulfric's rebellion to continue so Skyrim would remain divided and distracted.[1][7]

Ulfric returned to Windhelm and continued his campaign.[1][7] Sometime after the revelation of the Last Dragonborn, Ulfric stepped up his campaign by besieging the city of Whiterun, the capital of his old rival Balgruuf the Greater.[23] Balgruuf ultimately sided with the Empire in order to enlist additional aid to defend his holdings.[23]

See Also[edit]

  • For game-specific information, see the Skyrim and Legends articles.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Events of Skyrim
  2. ^ Scourge of the Gray QuarterFrilgeth Horse-Breaker
  3. ^ Aval Atheron's dialogue in Skyrim
  4. ^ Scouts-Many-Marshes' dialogue in Skyrim
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ulfric's dialogue in Skyrim
  6. ^ a b The Great War — Legate Justianus Quintius
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Thalmor Dossier: Ulfric Stormcloak
  8. ^ The "Madmen" of the ReachArrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar
  9. ^ a b c d e f The Bear of MarkarthArrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar
  10. ^ a b c d Igmund's dialogue in Skyrim
  11. ^ Markarth Bannermen's card lore in Legends
  12. ^ Kibell's dialogue in Skyrim
  13. ^ Cedran's dialogue in Skyrim
  14. ^ Alvor's dialogue in Skyrim
  15. ^ The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Prima Official Game Guide — David Hodgson
  16. ^ a b Vulwulf Snow-Shod's dialogue in Skyrim
  17. ^ Balgruuf's dialogue in Skyrim
  18. ^ a b c d e f Sybille Stentor's dialogue in Skyrim
  19. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: SkyrimImperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
  20. ^ a b c Hadvar's dialogue in Skyrim
  21. ^ a b Nords Arise! — Anonymous
  22. ^ a b Events of Unbound in Skyrim
  23. ^ a b Events of Battle for Whiterun in Skyrim