Content of the article: "The Chronicle of Clans: Clan Grim-Hoof"
A Chronicle of Clans: A Census of the Old and Respected Nordic Clans of Skyrim and Their Histories
By Lennald the Tuned-Tongue, the Famous Travelling Bard
Published by the Bards College, 4E 200
Historically, Nordic armies have rarely utilized cavalry in any significant number. Aside from mounted scouts employed to scan terrain while on the march or to survey enemy movements before a battle, the Nords typically prefer to do their fighting on foot rather than on horseback. For this, there are several contributing factors. Some Nords, especially those that inhabit the northernmost regions of the province, will tell you that it is cowardly to swing a sword from atop a horse and that a true warrior carries himself on his own two legs. On a more practical note, Skyrim's mountainous and uneven terrain is not ideal ground for mass cavalry maneuvers, therefore there has been little reason for armies to use horses on the battlefield.
That is until one descends from the mountains and sets foot onto the sprawling plains of Whiterun in central Skyrim, where the land rolls on for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see. There, the land is unbroken and leveled, aside from the odd boulder or rock outcropping protruding from the earth. Wild horses roam here in herds, where they can gallop as fast and as free and as far as the wind without obstacle. On the few occasions that horse mounted warriors have played a noteworthy role in Skyrim's military history, they have done so here, where the ground works in their favor. Those horse mounted, history-making warriors often all bear the same name: Grim-Hoof.
While the Nords of Clans Gray-Mane and Battle-Born reside comfortably in their luxurious manors and estates in the metropolis of Whiterun, the members of Clan Grim-Hoof have chosen a rougher, harsher existence in the vast expanse of Whiterun's open plains. There they have carved for themselves a reputation as honorable and traditional Nords with a natural talent for taming and riding horses of all breeds. Indeed, the members of Clan Grim-Hoof are renowned for their legendary equestrian skills and are regarded as some of Tamriel's finest riders.
In battle, they are truly formidable opponents. Swifter and far more mobile thanks to their steeds, they are capable of outflanking and outmaneuvering even the most cautious opponents. Their favored tactic is to dismount a portion of their warband and engage them enemy in a traditional infantry melee while the remainder of their warriors, still mounted upon their horses, gallops with haste around the enemy formations to strike at their exposed flanks or rear. When that fails, they have even been known to charge their horses headlong into the enemy shield wall, shattering it like a mammoth through the ice on the surface of a frozen lake. To bolster their cavalry stampede, they sometimes field ferocious war mammoths, and have even been known to ride the woolly beasts into battle as if they were just oversized horses with tusks.
To the men and women of Clan Grim-Hoof, who have long proclaimed themselves "horse-thanes", a horse is far more than just a mount. As a rite of passage, a member of the clan must break and tame their own horse when they are only five years of age. As a result, clan members often form unique bonds with their horses, and they often regard them as if they are kin, as if they were actual members of the clan. So much so that the clan even buries its fallen horses alongside their riders. If you were to visit the barrows and cairn-fields of Clan Grim-Hoof, you would indeed find that nearly half of the graves are the resting places of horses rather than Nords. They even believe that horses that fall in battle will earn a place in Sovngarde, where they can charge into battle eternally.
On that note, a warning: Clan Grim-Hoof will not abide a horse thief. While thievery of any form will not be tolerated by the clan, to steal a horse is a crime most loathsome and utterly unforgivable. To steal a weapon or a sack of gold or even a goat will certainly earn you a beating, to steal a horse will earn you death as swift as the horses the Grim-Hooves ride- and I do mean that literally. When a man is proven guilty of horse theft, the traditional punishment inflicted is to fasten each of the condemned's limbs to a horse so that they may be torn apart, their shattered remains dragged to the corners of Skyrim. My dear friend and companion Lokir, if you are reading this tome, I advise you to steer clear of the Clan Grim-Hoof's domain.
Though the clan has established a permanent home and hearth in northern Whiterun, near Greenspring Hollow, much of the clan has chosen to follow a nomadic lifestyle instead. They roam throughout the Hold with their horses, encamping briefly at the land's various water sources before pulling up roots and moving on swiftly. They can occasionally be found in the bustling marketplaces of Whiterun or Rorikstead trading spare horses, ivory, or furs for other, less readily available resources necessary to maintain their frontier lifestyle. Like the Nords of Clan Giants-Heir, the Grim-Hooves maintain a friendly relationship with the giants that also wander about Skyrim, and they can often be encountered travelling alongside their tall companions. Some members of the clan even shepherd their very own mammoth herds- an art they learned from the giants.
Unlike Clan Giants-Heir however, the Grim-Hooves do not believe they are descended from the giants. Instead, they assert that their bloodline is of Atmoran origin, but their is no evidence to support or contradict that claim. Nevertheless, they are a time weathered clan; scholars and archaeologists have managed to definitively date some of their burial mounds to the mid-First Era. Accounts from battles of the ruinous War of Succession describing Nord warriors charging gloriously into battle atop warhorses have been attributed to Clan Grim-Hoof.
Today, Aelfgar Grim-Hoof leads the clan from the saddle of his Frostmane Warhorse, Dain. However, Aelfgar is growing old and it is uncertain how much longer he will be able to hold his reins. When he can longer sit upright in his saddle, the leadership of the clan will likely be passed to one of his two children, a set of twins, Tollak and Selby. Tollak is the eldest son, and he rides Alsvinder. The youngest is the daughter Selby and her young maiden mare, Yrsa. When the time comes, the twins will race across the breadth of Whiterun Hold for the honor of leadership, from the western banks of the White River to the shadows of the Sundered Towers. What a race that shall be.
Links to past entries in the Chronicle of Clans:
- Use of Cavalry in the Armies of Tamriel
- The Chronicle of Clans: Clan Stormcloak
- The Chronicle of Clans: Clan Grave-Hearth
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