Disclaimer that I found a bit of this on a tik tok video and expanded on some of the ideas.
Harkon's backstory is a bit clouded, a lot of what he says about himself contradicts the lore of the universe that we have been told. Harkon claims " "In an age long forgotten to history, I ruled as a mighty king. My domain was vast, my riches endless and my power infinite." This is all well and good but we see no other reference to his time as a king anywhere in the lore. He also claims " I pledged myself to Molag Bal, and in his name I sacrificed a thousand innocents. In reward, he gave everlasting life to me, my wife and my daughter." A massacre of this caliber would probably have been recorded and documented somewhere, but we see nothing of Harkon's rampage for Molag bal.
This theory suggests that not only is Harkons kingship and massacre well documented, but it's actually one of the most important events in the history of Nordic Skyrim. This theory says that Harkon was in fact a great king, who ruled over many people on the frozen continent of Atmora. He led a company across the sea of ghosts in the Merethic Era and established the first human settlement on Tamriel, the city of Saarthal. Harkon and his people dug deep, and developed an uneasy peace with the native Falmer people, which according to Knight-Paladian Gelabor constantly devolved into war. Eventually Harkon and his people unearthed an artifact of great power, the Eye of Magnus. This would be something that a magic wielding culture such as the ones of the Falmer would have valued greatly, not only as a source of power, but as a religious artifact, as the god Magnus was probably worshiped.
Sensing great potential and power within him, as well as the ever increasing fear of his own mortality, Molag Bal reached out to Harkon and offered him the opportunity to make him and his family immortal, to become pure-blooded vampires, with the condition that Harkon would sacrifice a thousand innocents to Molag Bal. Lucky for Harkon, he happens to rule over a large amount of people. He contacts the snow elves, and convinces them to attack the settlement at Saarthal by telling them about the power of the eye of magnus, and possibly by lying about the nords intentions with it. The resulting massacre, committed by the Snow Elves under orders and manipulation from Harkon, was the well recorded night of tears, which wiped out the settlement of Saarthal. By doing this, Harkon has achieved immortality, at the expense of his own people.
Hoping to maintain a relationship and alliance with the leading members of Falmer culture, Harkon begins to plant the seeds of the eventual infection of Arch-Curate Vyrthur, in an attempt to create an alliance based on common vampiric blood. Harkon and the Snow elves never prepared for the possibility of Ysgramor and his 500 companions, so seeing the fall of the Snow elves, Harkon retreated to his keep, eventually taking up residence in the sea of ghosts.
While I know this theory still leaves a lot of holes, and operates based on a lot of assumptions, I think there is a basis for it. Harkon's time as a king would have been forgotten because it wasn't written down, as Ysgramor hadn't created the runic nordic script to record it yet, and even though we don't know the exact number of Atmorans that lived in Saarthal, based on the size of the city as we see it in the game, 1000 people isn't that far fetched of an estimate. Valerica mentions that time has little meaning to them in Beyond death, implying that the Volkihar Clan is incredibly old, making it not unreasonable to place an approximate time for their birth in the mid-late Merethic Era.
Let me know what you guys think, and some credit is due to Gen_ed on tiktok for giving me the ideal basis for this theory.
Source: Original link
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