Madanach, also known of the King in Rags, is a fictional vanquished liberator of the Reachman, deposed king of Markarth and the Eastern Reach, and leader of the Forsworn nationalist rebellion developed by Bethesda Game Studios for the role-playing game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Taking advantage of Imperial preoccupation with the Great War against the Aldmeri Dominion, Madanach and the Forsworn liberated Markarth and the Eastern Reach from the Nords. In a polemic against Nord nationalist Ulfric Stormcloak, Arrianus Arius, an Imperial scholar and apologist for the Reachmen, claimed that the Forsworn ruled the Eastern Reach as peacefully and fairly. The Forsworn sought recognition from the Empire as a kingdom separate from Skyrim, but Ulfric and the Stormcloaks defeated the Forsworn and captured Madanach.
Madanach was tried and sentenced to death, but the corrupt mine owner Thonar Silver-Blood offered Madanach the opportunity to have his life spared in exchange for allowing Thonar to covertly control the Forsworn through Madanach. Madanach agreed, was imprisoned within Cidna Mine instead of executed, and directed the Forsworn into covertly acting in Thonar's interests.
Madanach eventually turned against Thonar and sought to have Thonar's wife Betrid assassinated.
If the player investigates Thonar's connection to the Forsworn, Thonar has corrupt guards frame the player for murder and then imprisoned within Cidna Mine, where the player can decide to kill Madanach or cooperate with him.
This was our land. We were here first. Then the Nords came and put chains on us. Forbid us from worshipping our gods. Some of us refused to bow. We knew the old ways would lead us back to having a kingdom of our own. That is who we are. The Forsworn. Criminals in our own lands. And we will cut a bloody hole into the Reach until we are free.— Madanach, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I had Markarth. My men and I drove the Nords out. We had won, or so we thought. Retribution was swift. I was captured, quickly tried, and sentenced to death. But my execution never came. Thonar Silver-Blood stopped it. He wanted the Forsworn at his call, that I would point their rage at his enemies and spare his allies. And I have. Humiliating at first, but I knew he would let his guard down eventually. That he would come to trust I was under control.— Madanach, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Imagine hearing a story like that, over and over. Each time a different family[.] Each time a different injustice. Your [the player's] meddling above ground reminded me of how removed I've been from the struggle. My men and I should be in the hills, fighting.— Madanach, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
After aided by the player
It'll take years, but I'll organize the Forsworn again. We'll reclaim our land, and then, when power is ours, we'll have peace. A kingdom. Until then, let me offer you a warning. Beware the Forsworn. No place in the Reach is safe from us now.— Madanach, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Madanach's Lore entry at the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages