Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim gave players the opportunity to join the ranks of one of Tamriels most powerfuls armies, the Imperial Legion. This is the standing military of the Septim Empire, and are a not so subtle homage to the Roman Empire.
In Skyrim, the goal of the Imperial Legion is to stamp out the Stormcloak Rebellion that is trying to get Skyrim to secede from the empire. There is a lot to the Imperial Legion, and their history goes back a long time. Much of it is confusing and strains in with much of the other lore in Elder Scrolls. While it will be difficult to explain the Imperial Legion, here are some things you may not know about them.
10 Their Predecessors
Before there was the Imperial Legion, there was the Alessian Legion. This was the army of the Alessian Empire, which was founded by St. Alessia. The Alessian Empire was the First Empire of Men, and it was founded in Cyrodil which would later be the seat of the Septim Empire.
St. Alessia established the empire after overthrowing Ayleids, who were the native elves of the land of Cyrodil. She also made an important covenant with the Dragon god Akatosh that would ensure the safety of Tamriel from Daedric influences as long as her bloodline held the throne of Cyrodil and the Dragonfires remain lit. The Alessian Legion, and later the Imperial Legion always made sure to protect its emperors and ensure there was always a legacy, although at times they were certainly unsuccessful.
9 Reman Empire
The Imperial Legion officially came to be under the Reman Empire. This empire succeeded the Alessian's, and is referred to as the Second Empire of Men. The Reman Empire was run by the Reman Dynasty who had bloodline connections to the Alessian Dynasty. Under the Reman Empire, the Imperial Legion most notably attempted an invasion of the Argonian homeland, Black Marsh.
8 Alliance War
The Alliance War was a stressful time for the Imperial Legion. The Reman Empire fell leaving a vacuum of power within the empire, and resulted in the empire being controlled by followers of the Daedric Prince of domination, Molag Bal. Aside from this, the First Aldmeri Dominion, Daggerfall Covenant, and Ebonheart Pact used this opportunity to wage war while Tamriel's central power was in a weakened state.
The Imperial Legion mostly set off on fighting against the Daedra infecting the empire, but also had to fight the different alliances. This was particularly difficult as they were surrounded by enemies since they were at the center of Tamriel.
7 Tiber Septim
The Imperial Legion truly came to be what it is, when Tiber Septim took control. Tiber Septim was a Dragonborn and set about conquering all of Tamriel. He was the first emperor of the Third Empire of Men, and initiated the Septim Dynasty. With the Imperial Legion, he unified Tamriel by first taking High Rock, Skyrim, Black Marsh, Hammerfell, Morrowind, Elsweyr, Valenwood, and the Summerset Isles.
Tiber Septim essentially conquered a whole continent in his lifetime, and due to this he is basically one of the most influential historical figures within the Elder Scrolls series. This has also resulted in him becoming the god Talos after his death and joining the Divines.
6 Oblivion Crisis
When the Daedric Prince of Destruction, Mehrunes Dagon, invaded Tamriel, the Imperial Legion struggled in keeping at bay the Oblivion Gates popping up all over the place. The legion could barely keep Cyrodil safe, let alone the other provinces of Tamriel. As a result, many of the provinces had to fight on their own.
The Imperial Legion defended the Imperial City when Mehrunes Dagon personally invaded, and fought off the Daedric hordes while Martin Septim was expelling the Daedric Prince. When the Oblivion Crisis was resolved, the Legion was severely weakened. Unable to maintain order, The Black Marsh, Summerset Isles, Valenwood, and Elsweyr separated from the empire.
5 The Great War
A significant blow for the empire and the Imperial Legion was the Great War. This war was the Imperial Legion against the Third Aldmeri Dominion, which was composed of the High Elves of the Summerset Isles. The dominion managed to strong hand the Imperials and take the capital of the empire, Imperial City. Despite low morale, the Imperials managed to retake the capital in the Battle of the Red Ring.
The war devastated both sides, and was ended by the White-Gold Concordat. This agreement was a peace between the two empires, with conditions that parts of Hammerfell be given up to the dominion and there be a ban on the worship of Talos. Though the empire agreed, this did not sit well with many in the empire and resulted in Hammerfell seceding from the empire, and Skyrim beginning to take interest in seceding as well.
4 Skyrim Civil War
A big part of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the civil war going on between the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloaks. Ulfric Stormcloak leads the Stormcloaks, and they desire Skyrim to be an independent country that is freely allowed to worship Talos. General Tullius of the Imperial Legion has been tasked with stamping out the rebellion, and nearly ends the war quickly when capturing Ulfric in a surprise attack. If it were not for the Dragon god Alduin's interference at Helgen, Ulfric would have likely been executed and the war would have been over. Later on, the Dragonborn can choose to side with the Imperial Legion within the game.
3 Patron Deity of the Imperial Legion
Stendarr is the god of Justice and Mercy, and is one of the Nine (or eight) Divines. He is known for being the patron of law abiding citizens, but also the Imperial Legion. Above all else, the Imperial Legion’s goal is to maintain order and law within the empire. They are the people who uphold and enforce laws, and fight against those will disrupt the status quo. Due to this, it makes sense that they would appropriate Stendarr as their patron.
2 Septim Dragon
Dragons are an important symbol for the Imperial Legion. The Imperial Legion’s banner is that of dragon, but this is also the symbol of the Septim Empire, which its founder Tiber Septim had the blood of a dragon. The symbol specifically is intended to represent Akatosh, and the covenant the empires of Cyrodil have with the Dragon god. Additionally, during Tiber Septim’s conquering of Tamriel, the Imperial Legion was under the command of an actual dragon named Nahfahlaar.
1 Various Legions
There are many legions within the Imperial Legion. For starters, there have been numerous main legions since its origin, but the actual number is unknown. There are also some known variant such as the Shadow Legion, which specializes in magic, the Imperial Guard, which specializes in protecting the emperor, and the Diamond Marines, who are essentially the marines of the legion. Aside from that, there was also Legion Zero, which was composed of evil Imperial Legion members who sided with Molag Bal during the Alliance War.