"Upon my honor I do swear undying loyalty to the Emperor… and unwavering obedience to the officers of his great Empire. May those above judge me, and those below take me, if I fail in my duty. Long live the Emperor! Long live the Empire!" —Imperial Legion oath
(NA Daggerfall Covenant Roleplaying Guild on Playstation.)
The Imperial Legion, also known as the Red Legion, Imperial Army and the Ruby Ranks, is the main fighting force of the Empire of Tamriel. It is often pluralized as the Imperial Legions. It operates under the auspices and authority of the Emperor himself. With its vast numbers, quality training, and rigid discipline, the Legion is considered one of the best armies ever assembled in history. The primary mission of the Imperial Legion is to preserve the peace and rule of law in the Empire. Those who protect the Emperor and the Imperial Province are sometimes called the Imperial Guard and the Imperial Watch. A Legion Centurion is typically in command of the Palace Guard of the White Gold Tower.
In peacetime, the Legion serves primarily as a garrison force — manning forts, patrolling roads, and providing guardsmen for towns, cities, counties, and nobles. They are empowered to arrest criminals and seize their property, among other things. In wartime, the Legion's responsibilities and powers are greatly increased. During conflicts, the Legion serves as an invading and occupying force, overwhelming opposition with numerical superiority and strict economy of force. The aquatic equivalent of the Imperial Legion is the Imperial Navy, with the two often overlapping.
The Legion is divided into structured and disciplined military units; the primary, and largest, of which is the Legion, which is further divided into Cohorts. Legions are numbered for identification, and each possesses a proud history and sub-culture. The Imperial Battlemages are a rich tradition of war mages trained in the support of the Legions. All facets of warfare are accounted for in Legionary operations, and the Legion employs large numbers of highly-specialized troops in conjunction with one another to achieve victory, among them archers, light and heavy cavalry, battlemages, and healers. Imperial Battlemages are often mixed with other legions, but also form cohorts under a Battlemage Palatine, who acts as the commander of the cohort. Imperial organizations, such as the Imperial Society, requisition legionnaire support as needed for their endeavors. A special Legion platoon comprises the guard of any Duke in the province of Morrowind, the Duke of Vvardenfell, for instance. These soldiers are among the best the Legion has to offer; the most accomplished soldiers of the Duke's guard have the honor of serving as personal Palace guard to the King of Morrowind. The Legion was also known to have an expeditionary force, that was known to have put down tribal uprisings in Black Marsh.
The Legion's versatility is tied to its non-discriminatory recruitment. The Legion recruits individuals of all races and creeds into its ranks and benefits from the diversity of skills and backgrounds they bring (though Colovians form the majority). The Legion's strict standards for recruitment prioritise endurance, soldierly virtue, and trustworthiness, among other qualities. Kothringi were known to be a large part of the Imperial garrison of Gideon. In the Second Era, Lyris Titanborn, a half-giant, was a member of the Imperial Legion and despite experiencing discrimination from some soldiers she rose quickly through the ranks due to her strength and height, eventually serving Emperor Varen Aquilarios personally. The Legion is also one of the few groups to treat the Orcs well, with them forming a large number of soldiers in the Legion due to their natural strength and aptitude for smithing. Disaffected Altmer also joined the Legion to resist the Thalmor in the Fourth Era. Dunmer such as General Symmachus, who was one of Tiber Septim's closest subbordinates, also have played a major role in the Imperial Legion, the assassin Dram is another example of a high ranking Dunmer in the Legion. Nords form a large part of the Legion too, with the Skyrim Legions being mostly made up of Nords, with the Nords benefiting from the Empire's protection and prosperous trade. In exchange, the people of Cyrodiil sleep peacefully, knowing their northern border is guarded by some of the fiercest warriors in Tamriel. The Legion has also counted Dragons, such as Dragonne Papré and Nahfahlaar, within its ranks, the latter of these being employed to devastating effects in wars and the former being stationed in the Imperial Battlespire.
Service in the Legion is considered a model of Imperial citizenship, and as such requires a high standard of excellence. Influential Imperial military families would often send their children to be trained in legionary academies, such as the Topal Legionary Academy, where they would be trained to be elite soldiers. Legionaries are typically expected to be at the peak of physical fitness in order to weather the rigors of melee combat and long marches in heavy equipment, demonstrate mastery of blades, polearms, and blunt weaponry, and have great skill in utilizing heavy armor as well as hand-shields.
Legions are known to have their own marching songs, and also have skalds (war bards) that train in the Bards College. Stendarr is the Patron of the Imperial Legion.