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Elder Scrolls’ Worst Emperor Is Also Its Weirdest | Screen Rant

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The vast in-game history of The Elder Scrolls is in part told through the chronicles of many different noble lineages, and perhaps the worst emperor to ever grace Tamriel’s throne is also one of the weirdest characters in the series. Pelagius Septim III, who ruled the Empire of Tamriel over 200 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls Arena, is posthumously remembered as the Mad Emperor. Pelagius III’s eccentricities embarrassed the Empire, eventually prompting his wife to rule in his stead, and his madness became so well known that Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness himself, even considers Pelagius’ ghost a close friend.

By all accounts, Pelagius was a fairly normal and promising child, despite the civil unrest that engulfed Tamriel when he was young. According to one of the many in-game Elder Scrolls booksMadness of Pelagius, the boy, his mother, and his younger sister took shelter on the Isle of Balfiera during the War of the Red Diamond. While Pelagius’ father and uncle fought the usurpers of the throne, Pelagius’ aunt and cousin, the future Mad Emperor became known on the island as “a handsome, personable boy, interested in sport, magic, and music.” Even while the fate of the Empire was unknown, Pelagius’ future seemed bright.

Related: Elder Scrolls Lore Books Missing From Skyrim

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Pelagius’ descent into madness began in the waning hours of the War of the Red Diamond. After Pelagius’ uncle had already claimed the throne, Pelagius’ usurper aunt Potema, known as the Wolf Queen of Solitude, was under siege in her castle. As claimed in The Wolf Queen, Book VIII, Potema’s last act against her family and The Elder Scrolls‘ Septim Dynasty was to sneak out of the castle and give Pelagius a cursed amulet. When the Siege of Solitude finally breached the castle walls, Potema was found dead, and Pelagius was placed on Solitude’s throne, though he was allegedly now cursed by the amulet to gradually lose his wisdom.

Pelagius began acting erratically ruling as the King of Solitude, where visiting dignitaries noted dramatic shifts in his weight. Within the span of months he would go from rotund to emaciated. More attention would be put on the young king when his uncle the Emperor passed away, being replaced by Pelagius’ elderly father. As the heir apparent, Pelagius’ eccentricities began attracting more attention, culminating in a speech where the king tore off his own clothes in front of the audience. Pelagius’ father, now Tamriel’s Emperor, arranged his son to be married to a Dark Elf noble, Katariah Ra’athim, a skilled diplomat who could rule Skyrim’s capital city of Solitude, and later Tamriel.

When Pelagius’ father died eight years after the Siege of Solitude, the Mad Emperor and Katariah traveled to Cyrodiil for Pelagius’ coronation, during which the new Emperor fainted as the crown touched his head – an unverifiable occurrence, according to Madness of Pelagius. For two years Pelagius officially sat on the throne, and in that time similar hearsay conveyed how afflicted his mind had become. Rumors suggest Pelagius insulted an Argonian ambassador by insisting the dignitary’s native language was comprised of grunts and squeaks. Pelagius was notably obsessed with cleanliness, but one of the Mad Emperor’s most infamous tales recounts how he would preside over cleanings of the White-Gold Tower and defecate on the floor to provide his servants more work.

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Related: Skyrim: Why Argonians Are The Best Character Choice

When Pelagius began biting the palace’s visitors, the Mad Emperor was placed in asylums that catered to The Elder Scrolls‘ high society. At one such institution in Torval, Pelagius decided to host a ball, a tale delineated in an appropriately titled book, The Asylum Ball. With decorations and supplies sent by the Empress Regent Katariah, Pelagius remodeled his wing of the asylum and personally oversaw the preparations. The Mad Emperor’s mental state was irreversibly worsened when none of the guests arrived. Years later it was discovered that another resident of the asylum, a duchess with kleptomania, had stolen all of Pelagius’ handwritten invitations and hidden them.

Pelagius Septim III died at the age of 34 after suffering a fever. Katariah then assumed full control of the Empire, becoming the first ruler of the Third Era to have no blood relation to Tiber Septim. According to Skyrim‘s Sheogorath, formerly the Hero of Kvatch, Pelagius’ last act as Emperor was made on his deathbed, where he attempted to outlaw dying. Despite Pelagius’ complete inability to rule, he is celebrated every year in The Elder Scrolls‘ province of High Rock during the Mad Pelagius Festival, when all sorts of eccentric nonsense is encouraged.

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Next: Elder Scrolls 6 Theory: Sheogorath Will Return

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