The Elder Scrolls

The Number of Legions in Skyrim

TheElderScrolls6 - The Number of Legions in Skyrim

So this is one of two posts I am doing about the Imperial Legion in Skyrim, this one attempts to address the actual Order of Battle or Table of Organization and Elements of troops in Skyrim, and being a military history nerd, it's one that I will enjoy a lot more than the other half of my posts on the Legion.

Lets get what a Legion is out of the way right off the bat, I don't reject any one persons guess, but my own theory and belief is that it is based on three things, the Brigade, the Regiment, and the Roman Legion. The first, because today that is the most common military unit, and Bethesda is a modern game maker, they are going to consider this when making a military organization. The second, because Regimental systems are the forerunner to modern units, but are still well known and the Legion, because it's a pretty clear connection to Rome, the armor does kinda give that away. So a Legion in Elder Scrolls is likely a combination of all of these things.

The actual size of a legion can be debated till the cows come home, using my above theory, the size can be narrowed down between 2,000 and 6,000 troops. The low end is based on late late Roman legions and the more modern Regiment. The higher end is peak Legion strengths at the height of the Roman Empire (and Empire in Elder Scrolls no doubt,) and the Brigade, which today is the basic independent combat unit, the US is a great example, our BCT's can now be freely traded among divisions as needed, and they can have units attached and detached at will, varying their size and strength. Naturally these are base figures, and are subject to change for a litany of reasons, including one big one in Skyrim's case, desertion.

Now with that out of the way, the actual Order of Battle if you will, or Table of Organization and Elements in Skyrim can be kinda sussed out using these facts and another two key facts, the presence of Tullius at the rank of General, and multiple Legates. The former fact is down to two things, one, the Emperor is taking the Stormcloak threat very seriously, and wants it quashed, before the Dominion starts another war. Two, there is at least one Legion already in Skyrim and the Emperor sends more troops and at least a handful of Legates both senior and junior, requiring a General officer to command all involved and run the province as Governor General. The latter fact is self explanatory, the Legion already in Skyrim is going to be in an interesting state of flux, you'll have officers and soldiers leaving to join Ulfric, but some staying on, this Legion alone obviously cannot fight the Civil War, and since officers have left, you need more to fill the gaps in that Legion, but in general, more troops will have to be sent, even if it just elements of full strength Legions, or even half strength Legions.


This is not impossible either, Ancient Rome, and Modern Military's have sub units, we call them Battalions, the Romans called them Cohorts. Ironically they were similar in size too, you had about 600 legionnaires in a cohort, except the First Cohort of a Legion, which was bigger, and you have a range of troops in a Battalion, up to a full thousand soldiers. Taking all that into account, it stands to reason that the Legion is represented by more than one numbered Legion in Skyrim.

With all that in mind. I can draw a few conclusions about the composition of troops in Skyrim by the time you arrive and pick a side. I conservatively put the TOE of the Imperial Legion in Skyrim at least at elements of three Legions, one full Legion (not full strength, but it is the garrison of Skyrim) and elements of at least two others. That's a conservative estimate, I expect it could go higher, since we're not talking 6,000 troops per Legion necessarily, or even full strength Legions even if they are smaller at max strength.

If I had to hazard a guess by the way at the actual Order of Battle, the legion garrisoned in Skyrim is commanded by Rikke, who answers to Tullius as Commander in Chief of Skyrim, or Governor General and General in the Legion. Tullius in turn has more legates with elements of legions answering to him. That issue of desertion by the way appears at this point to give some evidence to my points, Rikke's Legion would have been hit hardest by it, it would still be very Nord heavy in composition but weakened by desertion to Ulfric. A quick side note by the way, Hadvar is probably in this specific legion as well, as a Nord and obviously stays on instead of defecting. But weakening Rikke's legion means Tullius comes with at least some extra troops, and a cadre of Legates to fill out lost officers to Ulfric and to command the cobbled together units of Tullius command.

I'll finish this off with a point about Tullius being a General. Both in Ancient Rome and in today's military, a General is not going to command a singular unit, they are men and women with experience in handling larger units that have multiple sub units and complex systems to keep those units fighting. In Rome, most Generals would have at least two legions up to several, I've heard of campaigns with 10 being involved, and those campaigns involved more Generals beneath the main General to deputize in command. On deputies though, Rikke seems to fit that bill too, as the deputy commander directly reporting to Tullius.

As a final side note too, they never make it fully clear which legion is in Skyrim, as in actual numbered Legion, I feel like there is a reference to the Ninth Legion, but it is lost to me at the time of writing this up. I know the Tenth is one of the Legions lost in Akavir but it also is a contender for the Legion that garrisons Skyrim too.

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