Skyrim is a massive game with a variety of quests and subquests to do. One select path of quests involves gaining Thanehood in all the nine holds of the nation. But the way to become Thane is not linear.

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It varies from hold to hold, with every Jarl having different requirements for players to earn their favor. Some are easier, and some are more difficult than others. Take, for instance, the path to becoming Thane of Windhelm. It's a long, arduous way to gain the favor of Eastmarch. And so, this is a small guide on how to earn this noble title.


Pick A Side

For those uninitiated, there's turmoil currently going on in Skyrim, between a subsection of the Mede Empire, lead by General Tullius, and the rebellious Stormcloaks, lead by Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak. And to even begin unlocking the title of Thane for Windhelm and Eastmarch, players will have to initiate the Civil War questline, and that means picking a side: the Empire, or the Stormcloaks?

Related: Skyrim: 5 Reasons To Side With the Stormcloaks (& 5 For The Empire)

For those who want the title sooner rather than later, it's best to align with the Stormcloaks, mostly because the quest for Thanehood unlocks midway through the Stormcloak questline. Those who side with the Empire will have to, unfortunately, wait until the completion of their entire civil war questline, before the quest unlocks. However, whichever side players choose, it's still probably best to wait until the Civil War is entirely over, before pursuing the title of thane, for a variety of reasons.


Solve Some Crimes

For Skyrim's biggest cities, the title of thane normally requires that players own one of the games pre-existing houses: Breezehome in Whiterun, Honeyside in Riften, Proudspire Manor in Solitude, Vlindrel Hall in Markarth, and Hjerim. The lattermost house in Windhelm's specific, purchasable property, but it's not so easily obtainable, like most of the others. Indeed, access to this home is locked behind yet another questline: Blood on the Ice.

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Murders have been happening around the city, and it'll be up to players to figure out who the killer is. After casing a crime scene, players will have to, interestingly enough, enter Hjerim to find more clues to who the killer is. Depending on multiple, smaller choices players can make during the quest, they could accidentally condemn a red herring for the crimes, or can cut right through, to the killer. For the sake of brevity, ignore the accusations, and simply wait for the killer to strike again at night. It won't take long before they make their face known, and are brought to justice.


Buy The House

Ironically, the path of this quest makes Hjerim the only pre-existing house players can enter before they actually purchase it. However, this early access doesn't count towards owning the house, so they still actually have to buy it. But this won't be available until the questline is totally completed.

Related: Skyrim: Every Player House (& How To Get Them)

But once available, the humble abode will come at a price range of 8000 to 12,000 gold. Not the Whether this all is done before or after the Civil War questline is up to the player's discretion, but completing it after the war is won would be best, as soldiering for either side can easily provide enough coin to purchase Hjerim.


Help Some People Out

Once the Civil War is over, a murderer has been caught, and a house has been purchased, there's one last thing players need to before they can become Thane of Eastmarch. Or rather...five last things, as players will have to help five people around the hold, before the jarl will finally bestow the title. And Eastmarch is a relatively populated place, having Kynesgrove, Darkwater Crossing, Mixwater Mill, and multiple other small settlements littered around the hold.

Assisting citizens could come in the form of selling crops to the hold's few farmers, chopping wood at any of the lumber mills, mining and selling ore at any of the mines, giving coins to beggars, completing item fetch quests or deliveries, killing bandits and completing bounties, and much, much more. The quickest route to completing these five quests can be done mainly around the city of Windhelm, through selling to both farms just outside its walls, giving alms to a beggar roaming the streets, and chopping wood for the inn. The last quest can easily be completed by also chopping wood at Anga's Mill, just down the road.


A Small Detour

However, there is one small caveat to helping citizens: if players sided with the Empire in the civil war, one of the helpable citizens, Brunwulf Free-Winter, becomes Jarl. And where his personal quest is completely optional to earn the title in the Stormcloak questline, it is a necessity to complete after the Imperial questline. And, unfortunately, it will no longer count towards helping the citizens of Eastmarch. So, there'll technically be an extra quest that Imperial soldiers will need to complete in order to become Thane. Still, once all five — or again, six, if siding with the Empire — citizens have been helped, they can return to the jarl. Whether they sided with the Stormcloaks or Empire, whether they report to Ulfric Stormcloak or Brunwulf Free-Winter, Windhelm's leader will proudly grant the title to the player. Alongside the usual perks of Thanehood, they'll also unlock Calder as a housecarl, and the Axe of Eastmarch, a radiant, enchanted weapon that is scaled to character level upon reception. A decent reward, for a decent, commendable title.

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Olivia Titus

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Avid reader and passionate writer, with a bit of casual gaming thrown into the mix. Previously worked and/or interned in marketing, teaching, and copy editing, but is mostly educated in the latter and writing. Entering the first stepping stones of a professional writing career, and excited to do so.

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