Elder Scrolls Lore Report - Maven Black-B*tch and the Clan of No Honor

Family matriarch. Political savant. Shrewd businesswoman. Maven Black-Briar. It’s no secret that the proud head of the Black-Briar family pulls the strings in the Rift. Secret dealings with the Thieves’ Guild. Friend to the Dark Brotherhood. Patron Mother to all ne’er-do-wells in Riften, though none would ever admit to it, lest they wind up with a dagger in the back – or worse, thrown in the dungeon of Mistveil Keep; worser still, forced to work in the meadery!




So, we know what Maven Black-Briar is and what she represents in the city of Riften, but who is she, truly? How did she come to be such an important figure that she would be known to ally with criminals, yet somehow still be friend to Laila Law-Giver, Jarl of Riften and supporter of Ulfric Stormcloak, and friend to the Empire? We have to go back, way back, to the conception of the Black-Briar clan itself.


12360989083?profile=RESIZE_584xA dynasty wreathed in wanton villainy and insatiable lust for wealth, the Black-Briars stand as a perfect testament to a clan void of honor, quintessential of the Nordic tradition before the Thane, Jarl, and High-King system was adopted. According to the Songs of the Return – also outlined in A Chronicle of Clans: A Census of the Old and Respected Nordic Clans of Skyrim and Their Histories written by Lennald the Tuned-Tongue of the Bard’s College in the Fourth Era – when Ysgramor sailed across the Sea of Ghosts to take back Skyrim from the Elves, the captain of the Fallowfire went with him. Ysgramor’s fierce shield-maiden Gurilda Sharktooth, led the front all the way to the Rift and smashed the Elves from what would become the place of Mistveil Keep. However, the Black-Briars claim that, though Gurilda was indeed captain of the Fallowfire and Ysgramor’s shield-maiden, and though she did lead the charge to the Rift, it was their progenitor, Bjorn Black-Briar, who led victory in Riften.


In all fact, there exists no record of Bjorn Black-Briar anywhere in the records of the Return. The Black-Briars might be well known as one of the most powerful and most prestigious clans in all of Tamriel – so much so, it seems, that they had to disfigure their own history to make it so. This, however, does not change how deep within Riften’s roots the Black-Briars have infested. One can hardly steer past the gates without being accosted by a member of the Black-Briar clan or one of their many thugs. Generation after generation, petty assault after petty assault, grand larceny after grand larceny, the Black-Briars have spent hundreds of years shaking down merchants, laying waste to merchant carts, and accosting travelling salesmen, all to garner the gold necessary to prove themselves the most influential in all of the Rift, if not all of Skyrim itself. They aligned their interests with the Thieves’ Guild, who would prove to be a valuable asset to the Black-Briars gradual takeover of the Rift. However, they knew this fortune could not last as long as they were solely associated with their extensive criminal past times.


12360989470?profile=RESIZE_400xAt an unrecorded point of their history, in order to legitimize their wealth and lay a true claim to their status, the Black-Briars built what would become possibly the most successful business in Skyrim – the Black-Briar Meadery, home to Black-Briar Mead and Black-Briar Reserve. Black-Briar Mead is just fine, if you need something to wash the dirt off a riding horse’s hooves - said Lennald There does exist some pedigree of note in the Black-Briar Family, however. Sometime in the second century of the Fourth Era, Gundaric Black-Briar took command of the family when his father was slain by assassins in the employ of a disgruntled skooma cartel in Fourth Era 160. Gundaric would set a precedent unheard of in the family, and one that would never be replicated: he burned the entire estate to the ground and turned in all of his criminal associates, upending everything the family had let someone else work so hard for so they could steal it. He donated much of the family’s wealth to charities and funded a massive renovation of Riften with more of it. He even assembled his soldiers and led a front against the various bandits around the Rift to bring them to justice. It is said he is the only Black-Briar to ride, fight, and win with nothing but his own honor. For a brief time, following his takeover until his untimely death sometime before the turn of the century, the Black-Briar Clan enjoyed an unknown period of peace. Mysteriously, it is said Gundaric, who had just turned down the position of Jarl, was poised to donate the rest of the Black-Briar’s wealth, leaving them as Septimless as the Grey-Manes, before he died of an equally mysterious disease – it’s surmised his daughter, angry at what he had done to their family, poisoned him, but it’s never been proven – at his funeral pyre, she threw a black rose across his burning body and smiled. Gundaric’s daughter’s name? Maven.


If the Black-Briars were the quintessence of ambitious greed fueled by an insatiable lust for power, then Maven Black-Briar is the quintessence of a Black-Briar. If ever a more despicable, perfidious woman had drawn breath in the history of Mundus, their existence has been struck from all records. Since taking the family at the age of nineteen, Maven has entrenched the clan’s roots even deeper into Riften than they ever were before. She has spent most of her time as the clan’s head undoing the damage her father had done. She forged close relations with all the shadowy organizations of any ill repute, including the Thieves’ Guild and Dark Brotherhood, and she has no qualms with enlisting their aid for anything, no matter how small it seems. In fact, it seems if you even look at her wrong, you might very well end up marked by a Dark Brotherhood assassin, or possibly find a shadowmark on your home, marking you for the Thieves’ Guild.




(the Black-Briar Meadery in the heart of Riften, as seen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)


When she’s not enjoying her wealth with glutton, Maven can be found whispering lies into the ear of Laila Law-Giver, giving her immense sway over the people of Riften. It is Maven that controls Riften, not the Jarl, from the disenchanted clouds in the skies to the stinking ratways in the sewers. Maven stands as irrefutable proof that the Black-Briars are a clan devoid of all honor, and, as any true Nord knows, to live without your honor is to not live at all.

12360989696?profile=RESIZE_180x180(gold is the only thing Maven Black-Briar truly understands)

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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.

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