Elder Scrolls Lore Report - Jyggalag, the Madgod, and the Greymarch

Elder Scrolls Lore Report – The Greymarch


Jyggalag's Emblem of Order

At the end of every era, the Shivering Isles in Oblivion prepare to undergo a radical transformation that inevitably destroys the Shivering Isles. We know this to be true, we have seen it happen. But why?


Fret not, fellow scholars, I, Fimvul, will be your guide into the machinations of the Daedric Princes themselves. To begin, this is a report specifically on the Greymarch, not on Jyggalag or Sheogorath. Before recorded time, the Daedric Prince of Order, Jyggalag, was growing so powerful that the other princes feared he would use his power to spread his influence across all of Oblivion, rather than just his own plane. To circumvent this, they cursed and unmade him, warping him into the very thing he hated most: chaos and madness, but before we delve deeper, let us unravel the mystery of Jyggalag himself.



concept art of Jyggalag and the Knights of Order. so boring and unoriginal...


Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Logical Order and Deduction. His once great library at one point contained so much knowledge that it was said one could enter and spend an entire lifetime predicting every logical, future event, down to the most abstract detail, of Mundus or Oblivion, long before they ever happened. Up until the Third Era, he was practically unknown to all in Tamriel, having been cursed, as I mentioned earlier. It is said the Daedra despise, even fear, order and wisdom – so much that they even feared Sotha Sil; in fact, the Clockwork Apostles even said that, of all the Daedra, only the “Grey Prince of Order” knew his nature, and he went mad in the knowing.


Jyggalag commands his own Daedra, the Knights of Order, spawned by obelisks summoned by his followers, the Priests of Order. Together, they personify the Forces of Order. Jyggalag is seen as stern, bleak, and colorless, that he and his “lack originality”. As Jyggalag grew more powerful, his realm of perfect order began to stem across the vast seas of Oblivion, expanding into other planes owned by other princes, which caused them to grow angry and fearful. They banded together and cursed him to halt his expansion, turning him into Sheogorath, the essence of chaos, the embodiment of the very thing Jyggalag hated most. The Madgod quickly transformed Jyggalad’s realm into the Shivering Isles, reflecting the madness within. However, at the end of an era, Sheogorath turns back into Jyggalag to destroy the Shivering Isles, though it is rather unclear why, and then eventually turns back into Sheogorath to rebuild the Shivering Isles, beginning the cycle all over again.


Shivering Isles after being destroyed by the Knights of Order


At some point, Jyggalag took the mortal Dyus of Mytheria to be his librarian, but Dyus eventually became the Chamberlain of Jyggalag. Whenever Dyus would die, Jyggalag would resurrect him but eventually stripped his mortality as Jyggalag grew tired of him dying. It is said Dyus spent so much time in the library, he was also capable of predicting events before they happened, to a shocking degree of accuracy, save for any events contained within Elder Scrolls. When the Madgod came into being, he burned the library, but could not bring himself to extinguish the knowledge of Dyus, so instead had the Imperial imprisoned and forbade him from dying. The only other relic of Jyggalag that wasn’t destroyed by Sheogorath was the Sword of Jyggalag, to which Dyus revealed the location of to the Dunmer Talym Rend in the fourth era.



Jyggalag and a young Librarian Dyus 


Once an era, usually the end but it isn’t always so specific, an event known as the Greymarch occurs, during which time Sheogorath transforms back into Jyggalag to spread his Force of Order once again, before inevitably turning back into Sheogorath to spread chaos and discord across his lands. It is unknown what timeline the Greymarch follows. There is little to support it following Tamrielic eras, some sources stating the Greymarch occurs every thousand years, while Sheogorath himself claims “…passed from me to myself every few thousand years”.


Since the first Greymarch, Sheogorath has tried dozens of ways to halt or at least delay the Greymarch. Thus far, he has not been successful and, as of the end of the Third Era, he probably never will be. His attempts have included summoning mortal champions to the Isles to thwart the Forces of Order. All mortal champions save one have died fighting Jyggalag. At some point, Sheogorath inevitably disappears to become Jyggalag. It is unknown if all such mortal champions then become Vestiges through which Sheogorath mantles them at the end of a Greymarch, which comes about when Jyggalag fully destroys the Shivering Isles. However, before we get deeper into the Greymarch and the Mantling of the Madgod, we need to understand what a Vestige is.



Sheogorath begins the transformation back into Jyggalag. looks sparkly. 


There are actually two types of Vestige within the Elder Scrolls. There are creature Vestige and soul Vestige. A creature Vestige is when a mortal soul is destroyed and replaced by the Daedric Animus, forming an imitation of the mortal’s original body from chaotic creatia – the most notable example is when Molag Bal created the first Daedric Titan using the soul of Boziikkodstrun, a dragon; the most well -known examples are the Soul Shriven, the imperfect Vestiges used as slaves by Molag Bal. Then there is the soul Vestige, which is also called the Daedric Animus. Daedra do not possess Anuic Animus as they lack mortal souls. The Daedric Animus is also referred to as a Vestige. When a Daedroth is destroyed, its Vestige is banished to Oblivion back to the plane it originated from and then reforms its body according to the pattern in its Morphotype – which seems to be interchangeable with Vestige despite being more related to the form of the Daedra – using chaotic creatia. By replacing a mortal soul with a Vestige, a Daedra is created. The most famous Vestige is actually an embodiment of both: a Soul Shriven created by Molag Bal eventually re-attunes to Anuic influence, regains his soul, and then eventually stops the Planemeld and defeats Molag Bal. Haskill, the Chamberlain of Sheogorath, is also a Vestige, made from an unnamed mortal hero who mantled Sheogorath after a Greymarch.


So, what is mantling? Well, it is the process by which one entity impersonates another so profoundly that there becomes no discernible, functional difference between the two entities, effectively replacing the original. Walk like them until they walk like you. While an interesting concept, it still doesn’t much explain how a mortal champion might end up mantling and becoming Sheogorath, but sometimes, not everything is explained.



Sheogorath as he appears in The Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles. note the distinct lack of cataract on his eyes 


Both Sheogorath and Jyggalag corroborate the Champion of Cyrodiil becoming the new Madgod in The Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles. It’s even attested that, because Jyggalag – and by association, Sheogorath – knows what will happen in the future, that whatever they say will happen will happen. We need look no further than The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In Shivering Isles, Sheogorath, growing desperate and annoyed with the CoC, angrily tells the CoC that he’ll make him go blind. When we see Sheogorath again in Skyrim, he has obvious cataracts, indicating the our Skooma Cat did, indeed, make the CoC go blind, cataracts that Sheogorath before the Skyrim version did not have. Further, Sheogorath also makes plain that he was directly involved in the Oblivion Crisis, while we know that the Oblivion version of Sheogorath might have seen it happen, but played no role in the crisis itself, while the Champion of Cyrodiil was directly involved – in fact, other than Martin Septim, he was the most involved.



Sheogorath as he appears in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. note the distinct cataracts in his eyes


So now we have proof to the claim that a mortal champion mantles and becomes Sheogorath after the Shivering Isles have been destroyed and Jyggalag disappears. But what happens when the mortal champion chosen by Sheogorath defeats Jyggalag? Well, admittedly, not too much. The Shivering Isles return, as we see in Skyrim, as does Sheogorath, also evident in Skyrim.


In Third Era 433, the Champion of Cyrodiil arrives in the Isles to play his part as the mortal champion of Sheogorath. He mantles Sheogorath, defeats the Knights of Order, and eventually also bests Jyggalag, which it is more or less confirmed is the first time Jyggalag has ever suffered defeat and might also be the only event he’d never seen. In doing so, the cycle of the Greymarch ended and Jyggalag himself states he is finally free of the curse. What’s most interesting about the whole thing is that Sheogorath states that the approach of the CoC to mantle Sheogorath was a novel one, despite having mortals mantle him before, which leads to the conclusion that the mantling wasn’t enough; it needed to be a mortal that had also defeated Jyggalag. Without going into too much detail, Chamberlain Haskill takes the CoC to meet with Dyus, who instructs the CoC to reforge a new Staff of Sheogorath – the personification of the Shivering Isles that becomes naught but a twig at the beginning of each Greymarch – and allow the CoC to assume the powers of the Madgod. Despite Dyus predicting unavoidable and inevitable failure, the CoC succeeds in creating the Staff of Sheogorath and takes the Throne of Madness just before Jyggalag appears, which Haskill believes was key to stopping the Greymarch. Eventually, Jyggalag yields to the CoC and congratulates the CoC on breaking the cycle and becoming the new Prince of Madness. It is believed Jyggalag disappeared to roam Oblivion and maybe take revenge on those who cursed him, but it is also believed he will inevitably return to his role as the Prince of Order.



the Staff of Sheogorath, kinda pixelated but the best image I could find that wasn't boring


Sheogorath seems entirely knowledgeable about the Greymarch and Jyggalag’s purposes and motivations, but by the Fourth Era, he seems to have suppressed his memories and gone entirely and utterly insane – or, possibly, that the memories of his past life as Jyggalag were making him insane. However, the Dunmer Talym Rend managed to force Sheogorath to relive those memories, beating the Madgod at his own games. In the Fourth Era, a mage named Thoron manages to come into possession of the Sword of Jyggalag and went mad attempting to summon Jyggalag to Mundus and instead desired to open a rift to the Shivering Isles in an attempt to destroy them for his master, but he was ultimately thwarted by the Last Dragonborn.



the sword of Jyggalag


So, to conclude, the Greymarch is an event that happened possibly every thousand years in which Sheogorath would transform back into Jyggalag, destroy the Shivering Isles, then disappear, leaving Sheogorath’s former mortal champion to become the new Sheogorath. However, in the Third Era, the Champion of Cyrodiil mantles Sheogorath and defeats Jyggalag, forcing the Prince of Order to fail in destroying the Shivering Isles and has supposedly broken the cycle forever. Now Sheogorath and Jyggalag, though still linked in some way, are no longer the same entity, which leaves interesting implications for Oblivion. Was a new Daedric Prince created by the Champion of Cyrodiil, much like Boethiah created Malacath by destroying – or devouring if you believe the stories – Trinimac or do you think Jyggalag still has to reclaim his place as the Prince of Order?

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Fimvul is the current master of the Skyforge Library. Interested in the Elder Scrolls from a young age, he has been diving headfirst into the richer aspects of the lore of the series for over a decade. With years of experience and research under his belt, he hopes to enlighten his readers with the wondrous mystery that surrounds the Elder Scrolls universe.


  • Oh nice, I'm really interested in that, I'm going to read this tonight!

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