Skyrim: Stormcloaks or Imperials?

Hello my friends and welcome back to The Goblin Gazette! Karthas here and today we are going to talk about Skyrim! With the release of Skyrim the Special Edition I’m sure many of you are playing through all over again. If you’re anything like me you’ve probably beat most of the side quests, completed all of the guilds and have the thought “I should probably do the Civil War quest”. This means you will have to pick a side, which can be a tough decision to make. But have no fear! Hopefully I can help you decide which side to choose to join, because, after all, you must choose. So who will it be? Stormcloaks or Imperials?


After the Oblivion Crisis

Before we can make the decision it’s good to have some background to the events that led up to this moment.  To do this we will need to go 200 years into the past right after the Oblivion Crisis. After the Oblivion Crisis much of Tamriel was in chaos. The Imperials, who were impacted most by the event, needed to reassert themselves as the leaders of their provinces. Unfortunately for them, after Martin Septum sacrificed himself, there was no legitimate heir to the throne. So Chancellor Ocato became the de facto leader of the Empire until a new Emperor was found. Unfortunately he was not a very strong leader and soon the Thalmor took advantage of this.

The Thalmor were a group of Altmer who rose to power in the Summerset Isle due to their successes during the Oblivion Crisis. One of the primary beliefs of the Thalmor was the supremacy of the Mer (elves) over the other races of Tamriel (Man and Beast). The Thalmor wanted to see a reunification of all the provinces of Tamriel but under Elven control. This meant they needed to replace the Empire. Thus they had Ocato assassinated and soon overthrew the Imperial legions, and successfully seceded from the Empire.

Needing allies, the Thalmor were able to convince their Bosmer cousins to join them, as well as the Khajiit of Elsweyr. Soon the Imperial Legions in both Valenwood and Elsweyr were overthrown and the Aldmeri Dominion was recreated.

The Empty Throne

While all of this was happening, the Empire was still without a leader. While many laid claim to the Ruby Throne, one man rose among the rest, Titus Mede. He proved the strongest and soon became the new Emperor, thus beginning the Mede dynasty. During the reign of Emperor Titus Mede II, the descendent of Titus Mede I, the Empire was in ruins. Valenwood and Elsweyr joined the Thalmor. Black Marsh had been lost after the Oblivion Crisis, Red Mountain had erupted in Morrowind, and Hammerfell was plagued by infighting. Only High Rock, Cyrodiil, and Skyrim existed in relative peace in the Empire.

Soon The Aldmeri Dominion, gave the Empire an ultimatum, give in to the list of demands or prepare for war. The demands included:

  • Staggering Tributes
  • Disbandment of the Blades
  • Outlawing Talos Worship
  • And ceding large section of Hammerfell to the Dominion

The Emperor rejected the ultimatum and thus began The Great War. The Aldmeri Dominion quickly gained the upper hand and almost completely overthrew the Empire in a few years. In what they hoped to be a final siege of the Imperial City, the Aldmeri Dominion threw everything they had at the Imperials but Emperor Titus Mede II was able to fight his way out of the Imperial City. Shortly after this was the Battle of the Red Ring where Emperor Titus Mede II and his forces were able to retake the Imperial City and destroyed the Aldmeri forces in Cyrodiil.

An end to the war

The White-Gold Concordat brought the war to a close. Two provisions of the treaty were that the Empire ceded large portions of southern Hammerfell to the Dominion and that the worship of Talos was outlawed.

While there was no war after the treaty, the hostilities were still there. They entered a Cold War era as both sides attempted to rebuild after the fighting. Many did not expect the peace to last for long, which brings us to the events of Skyrim.

Well hopefully that brief history lesson was interesting and I didn’t bore you too much. So now let’s look at the Stormcloaks and Imperials.

The Stormcloaks

The Stormcloaks are led by Ulfric Stormcloak who was the Jarl of Windhelm. Ulfric fought in the Great War and has very strong feelings about the Mer and Beast races of Tamriel. He aided the Jarl of Markarth in defeating the Reachmen who had taken over the city, on the promise that Talos worship would be legal in the city.

Ulfric successfully freed the city but the Jarl of Markarth could not keep his promise as word had reached the Aldmeri Dominion that the Imperials had broken the treaty by allowing Talos worship. The Imperials, wishing to avoid another war, outlawed Talos worship and had Ulfric imprisoned. Ulfric was eventually released but his bitterness toward the Imperials still existed. He eventually challenged High King Torygg to combat and defeated him becoming High King of Skyrim. Despite this many did not believe Ulfric’s claim to the throne was legitimate since he used the Thu’um. Eventually Ulfric was captured and brought to Helgen to be executed.

If you join the Stormcloaks, they will win the Civil War and Ulfric will become High King of Skyrim. The Imperial leadership in Skyrim will be destroyed leaving only small camps left. Ulfric states that they will begin preparations for war with the Aldmeri Dominion. While we do not see it in game, it is assumed that Skyrim does in fact secede from the Empire.

The Imperials

The Imperials forces in Skyrim are led by General Tullius, a veteran of the Great War. His goal is to put down the rebellion and capture and execute Ulfric Stormcloak. While General Tullius supports the Empire, it becomes apparent that he disagrees with the White-Gold Concordat. In fact, you find out that many of the Imperials disagree with the treaty, but understand that if the treaty was not signed, the Empire would have been destroyed.

The Imperials wish to keep Skyrim as part of the Empire because they believe their best chances of defeating the Aldmeri Dominion are with a unified Empire rather than a broken Empire. Additionally they see the Skyrim Civil War as a distraction that only serves to benefit the Aldmeri Dominion.

If you join the Imperials, they will win the Civil War and Ulfric and the leadership of the Stormcloaks will be defeated. There will still be some resistance, but Skyrim will remain in the Empire.

My Opinion

Ultimately the decision is up to you, if you aid the Stormcloaks, Skyrim will leave the Empire. If you aid the Imperials, Skyrim will remain. I suggest completing both sides and see which one you enjoy the most, otherwise you’ll miss out on some fun missions.

So you may be wondering what my opinion is. Well let me tell you, but know that this is simply my opinion and you should choose what you want! When I first started playing, I was drawn to the Stormcloaks. The thought of fighting for the freedom to worship Talos and not answer the call of the Empire were very enticing. But as I continued down the Stormcloak path I began to realize that the Stormcloaks were being used. Without even knowing it, they were being used by the Aldmeri Dominion to weaken the Empire.

Silly Stormcloaks

As the quests continue you see more and more that the Imperials hate the White-Gold-Concordat just as much as the Stormcloaks. But there is something that the Imperials understand that the Stormcloaks do not, that the races of Man must band together or else the Aldmeri Dominion will win. In fact there is a Thalmor Dossier on Ulfric Stormcloak, in it they talk about Ulfric during the Great War and how he was intentionally allowed to escape after being captured. Additionally you find out that the Aldmeri Dominion actually wish to prolong the Civil War, because the longer the war goes on, the weaker the Empire becomes.

Finally, if Skyrim does secede from the Empire, that leaves it in a very vulnerable state. The Civil War and the return of Alduin took a toll on its people. Skyrim needs time to rebuild, but it will not have that time if it leaves the Empire. The White-Gold-Concordat protects it from the Dominion, but not if it secedes from the Empire. I would fully expect the Dominion to invade Skyrim as soon as it is freed.

So, in my opinion, the Imperials should win. Now it’s entirely possible that a free Skyrim could join with the Empire to fight against the Aldmeri Dominion and be more effective. But this seems like a very risky move since it will not be protected by the treaty.


Well I think that is it! I hope this has been helpful for you. But like I said before, ultimately you should pick which ever side you want! In fact you should play through both because they are quite enjoyable. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below! Thanks for stopping by my friends and I hope to see you around!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: