- "You're Dragonborn. The rules don't apply to you. You can Shout the way dragons do... without training, through inborn instinct." — Ulfric Stormcloak
A Dragonborn (or Akatosh, the Father of Dragons and chief of the Divines. Those with the blessing have an extraordinary aptitude in the use of the thu'um, being able to absorb knowledge of shouts directly from the souls of slain dragons. This ability breeds fear and hatred in dragons, as the removal of their soul severs their immortality and renders them beyond the reach of any necromancy. The first known Dragonborn was Miraak, a dragon priest of the Merethic Era who used the thu'um in an unsuccessful revolt against his masters. However, the title itself is most often associated with the "Dragonborn Emperors" of Tamriel, who were in a divine covenant with Akatosh which maintains the barriers between Mundus and Oblivion.) is a mortal blessed with the Blood and soul of a dragon by
- "So long as the Blood of the Dragon runs strong in her rulers, the glory of the Empire shall extend in unbroken years." — from the liturgy of the Re-Kindling of the Dragonfires
Any subject of the Empire prior to the Fourth Era would say they were ruled by the "Dragonborn Emperors", but very few understood what that title meant. Its usage stretches back to Saint Alessia, who founded the Cyrodilic Empire in a First Era covenant with Akatosh. The Dragon God imbued Alessia's line with blood from his own heart, initiating a sacred compact which kept the Dragonfires lit and Oblivion's influence barred from Mundus, so long as those of the Dragon Blood wore the Amulet of Kings. Ever since, the legitimate rulers of the Empire have been called Dragonborn: Alessia's successors, Reman Cyrodiil and his heirs, and finally the Septim Dynasty. Indeed, the title is particularly associated with Tiber Septim himself, perhaps because he made notable use of the thu'um in his early conquests. Only these true rulers, approved by Akatosh, could wear the Amulet of Kings and light the Dragonfires. In addition, they enjoyed the protection and service of the Blades, descended from the Akaviri Dragonguard, who follow the Dragonborn as "the ultimate dragonslayer." The line of Dragonborn rulers was abruptly severed through assassination at the end of the Third Era, leading to the Oblivion Crisis as the Dragonfires went out. Eventually, the last of the Septim bloodline sacrificed himself and the Amulet to permanently restore the liminal barrier. The Mede Dynasty that subsequently seized control of the Empire lacks the Dragonborn trait, and with the advent of the prophesied Last Dragonborn, it is unlikely there will be any further Dragonborn Emperors.
- Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,
- To keep evil forever at bay!
- And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph's shout,
- Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray! — Songs of Skyrim
The Dragonborn plays a prominent role in the legends of the Nords of Skyrim, who tell tales of heroes who would "kill dragons and steal their power". It is not known how many Dragonborn have arisen over the course of history. The Greybeards of High Hrothgar warned that many of them met their downfall because the ease with which they learned the thu'um made them arrogant. The Greybeards attempt to inculcate the values of the Way of the Voice, and strongly disapprove of the violent use of thu'um in general, but tolerate it among those who have been blessed by the gods. With the return of the dragons in 4E 201 came the emergence of the first Dragonborn hero since Tiber Septim to be summoned by the Greybeards for training. In the fulfillment of an ancient Akaviri prophecy, this Last Dragonborn learned to master the thu'um and defeated Alduin.
- St. Alessia was commonly regarded as the first Dragonborn recorded in history until Miraak, the true "First Dragonborn", made himself known in the Fourth Era.
- The Nerevarine was referred to as "Dragon-born" in The Lost Prophecy. If this is meant as a literal interpretation or, as Gilvas Barelo asserts, that it indicated the Nerevarine would be born under the banner of the Empire, is unknown.
- For game-specific information, see the Skyrim article.
- Paarthurnax's dialogue in Skyrim
- Ulfric Stormcloak's dialogue in Skyrim
- The Guardian and the Traitor — Lucius Gallus
- Trials of St. Alessia
- The Book of the Dragonborn — Prior Emelene Madrine
- Generic Imperial Cult dialogue in Morrowind
- The Arcturian Heresy — The Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker
- Delphine's dialogue in Skyrim
- Events of Oblivion
- Whiterun Guard's dialogue in Skyrim
- Arngeir's dialogue in Skyrim
- Events of Skyrim
- Miraak's dialogue in Dragonborn