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31 Day Skyrim Challenge - Day 10: The College
The College of Winterhold is a guild of mages centered in Skyrim.
It is a faction of magic-users similar to the Mages Guild of
Cyrodiil and Morrowind. When the Dragonborn appears, the current
Arch-Mage is Savos Aren, with Mirabelle Ervine serving as the
Master Wizard. During the faction's main quest, Tolfdir replaces
her as Master Wizard. The College is located in the northern
section of the city of Winterhold, in northern Skyrim. Instructors
of each magical discipline reside within, offering training and
various magical wares.

As the College was independent from the Mages Guild, Necromancy
was never made illegal by the College, unlike the Mages Guild in
Cyrodiil. For the College of Winterhold, the practice was generally
regarded as a tool, not a weapon, although practicing it outside of
the College was advised against by Phinis Gestor. Like Cyrodiil,
there were still wandering groups of Necromancers that did not
function alongside the College. Since the College was independent
of the jurisdiction of the Mages Guild, it was unaffected by the
Necromancy Ban of 3E 431 and the subsequent eradication of that
ban which led to battles against Mannimarco. 

Winterhold was once a great, powerful and wealthy hold, and its
relationship with the College of Winterhold was good. In 4E 122,
an unprecedented, cataclysmic event struck Winterhold and most of
the areas along the coastline. A massive storm came in from the
Sea of Ghosts, which brought huge waves which crashed into
Winterhold. Most of the city fell into the sea, leaving the city
in ruins both physically in terms of the destruction of the city
itself, and the emotional and psychological damage to Winterhold's
people. This event would eventually be referred to as "The Great
Collapse." The event left Winterhold in ruins, and some had said
that things would never be the same again, including Winterhold's
relationship with the College of Winterhold. The people of
Winterhold would eventually begin to blame the College for causing
the Great Collapse. Winterhold has never really recovered from the
Great Collapse.

The College is often blamed for the Great Collapse of 4E 122 and
is therefore widely distrusted. It is often believed that it was
activities at the College that caused the disaster; the only
evidence supporting this is that only the College remained almost
untouched. The College has since been cautious as to avoid
provoking the population of Skyrim. Many nationalistic Nords also
do not trust the College because of the fact that the immigrant
Dunmer make up the vast majority of the members within the
faction. Additionally, most Nords view magic and its practitioners
as spineless and weak, as stated quite humorously by a pair of
feuding siblings upon entering Winterhold.

The only positive relation the people of Skyrim have to the College
of Winterhold are requests for various items to be enchanted for
them. Sergius Turrianus explains that enchanting services are the
only connection between the College and the people of Skyrim.
Occasionally, he will have his students travel to a specific location
in Skyrim to pick up an item from a person who made a request to the
College to have the item enchanted.