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The Nilfgaardian Empire (Ceas'raet aep Nilfgaard in the Nilfgaardian speech) is the most powerful empire in the history of the known world. It is located in the southern part of the Continent and boasts both a thriving economy and a strong, well-trained army with talented commanders. It has expanded mostly through the conquest of foreign countries, which were then turned into provinces of the Empire. The Empire's inhabitants believe that "real" Nilfgaardians are only those born in the heart of the Empire, and not those born in the conquered provinces.

The provinces are ruled by either stewards or kings (in cases in which a king willingly surrenders, he retains his throne but is subject to the Emperor or just a vassal). The empire has expanded throughout the years, conquering new lands and going as far to the north as the Yaruga River during the reign of Emperor Emhyr var Emreis.

The major religion in Nilfgaard is the cult of the Great Sun.

In the Witcher saga, the Empire is portrayed as an overarching antagonist, with many free people of the North expressing hatred towards it with passion. It is introduced in Blood of Elves, when it invades Cintra.

National emblems Edit

Heraldry Edit

COA Nilfgaard Tw2 journal COA Nilfgaard drawing

The current coat of arms was created by our resident heraldry and witcher Mboro, based on descriptions in the novels. The second comes from CDPR's The Witcher game series and the drawing is the Czech concept.

Flag Edit

Nilfgaard flag from tw3

The current flag was created by Mboro, based on the description in the novels, the second flag is what is seen in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Known Nilfgaardians Edit

Army

Territories, vassals and provinces Edit

Cities and towns Edit

Keeps Edit

Armed forces Edit

MR Nilfgaard knight (1)

Nilfgaardian Knight

For the main article, see Nilfgaardian Army.

The army count during the 2nd Northern War was ca. 320,000, as 300,000 attacked the Northern Kingdoms, while the remaining 20,000 - 50,000 remained in the Empire.

CD Projekt's The Witcher franchise Edit

The Witcher (PC) Edit

Places Nilfgaard
The Nilfgaardian Empire is a powerful and ancient realm in the far south. Its capital is the city of Nilfgaard, located on the river Alba. The Empire arose through conquests, assimilating nearby kingdoms. Only the inhabitants of lands near the river Alba have the right to call themselves Nilfgaardians. A significant amount of elven blood runs in the veins of the people, while their language is a variant of the Elder Language. The Empire is aggressive and willingly invades neighboring lands. Its war with the Northern Kingdoms ended five years ago, yet in spite of the peace treaty, Nilfgaard has failed to give up its claims on the northern territories.

Source Edit

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Edit

Empire of Nilfgaard - The Witcher 2

Map of Nilfgaard from second game

The mighty Nilfgaardian Empire is still ruled by Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, and represented in the game by Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen, the Empire’s cunning and eloquent emissary and ambassador. 

Shilard is present in the Prologue, Act 2 (on both paths) and Act 3. In the Prologue, we can potentially see Nilfgaard playing its own game already if Geralt killed Aryan La Valette. Shilard persuaded the Baroness La Valette to accept Nilfgaardian protection. Already Nilfgaard can be seen projecting its influence.  We furthermore see in Act 2 that Shilard captured Triss Merigold, Geralt’s friend / lover, which as we learn later was to extract the name of members of the Lodge and as “evidence” of the Lodge’s guilt with regards to the assassinations. We also find out that Shilard was the one who ordered Count Maravel to ambush the convey escorting Foltest’s children and heirs, Boussy and Anaïs (which accidentally resulted in Boussy’s death) and to give her to Dethmold of Kaedwen, most likely to make sure that Temeria remains divided. Morever, Shilard revealed to King Radovid of the Lodge’s complicity in the royal murders, using the captive Triss Merigold as evidence, and worked with them to bring down the Lodge. And as we have already seen, Nilfgaard was in fact behind the assassinations to pave the way for its third invasion attempt, by promising Letho that it would re-establish the Viper School.

Tw2 journal Renuald

Renuald aep Matsen

In Act 3, if Triss Merigold was not saved (which requires Geralt to storm in the Nilgaardian camp and it ends up with Shilard dead), Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen pretended to have captured Letho, who subsequently “confessed” that the Lodge was behind all the assassinations at the Loc Muinne conference. Which led to exactly what Nilfgaard wanted, the elimination of the Lodge and the blaming of mages. If Geralt chose to save Triss, he opted to take Shilard hostage, but Renuald aep Matsen, an imperial bodyguard, killed the emissary himself, showing that he is in fact expendable in the Emperor’s plans. Triss revealed in the conference the Lodge’s guilt, but dissociated the mages in general from it, which allowed for the Conclave to be created.  

How much the Emperor’s plan succeeded depends on Geralt’s choices, but it was more or less successful, and at the end it is revealed that the Nilfgaardian empire’s army crossed the Yaruga river and is marching North.  The Third Northern War had begun. 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Edit

Nilfgaard is the aggressor. As a result of the fighting with the kingdoms of the North, it has encountered considerable turbulence - Radovid invaded Kaedwen (see Winter War), becoming a force able to defeat the Empire. Emhyr had not reached an agreement with corporations, so he devised a plan: he wanted to abdicate in favor of his daughter, Ciri. Depending on the player's choices, the Empire can follow one of the following courses:

  1. Emhyr var Emreis loses the war and Radovid or Dijkstra unites the entire North. Ciri's status won't matter here as Emhyr will be killed by conspirators for losing the war and subsequently she'd lose any right to the throne. Morvran Voorhis is then named emperor.
  2. Nilfgaardcity

    City of Golden Towers in TW3 (ending cutscene)

    Emhyr var Emreis wins the war. Depending on the player's previous choices, Emhyr stays in power if Ciri either dies or is a witcher (in which case he is convinced that she died), or abdicates to Ciri to become Empress.

The North can thus be conquered by Nilfgaard (and Temeria becomes a fief section), or Redania (in which all northern realms become part of Redania). The only exceptions are Skellige Islands and Kovir and Poviss.

Trivia Edit

  • Nilfgaard draws many parallels with the Roman Empire of the real world: a vastly powerful empire that, with the use of disciplined armies, assimilates other "barbarian" cultures into itself through hard conquest. Also similar is the feeling of superiority among its delegates and subjects (who like to believe they are all of the Elder Blood - descendants of Lara Dorren). The cult of the Great Sun amongst Nilfgaardians can be related to the cult of Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") within the Roman Empire. Furthermore, the Witcher 2 clearly lampshades this idea. In one of the quest descriptions in chapter 1, Dandelion uses the phrase "When in Nilfgaard, do as the Nilfgaardians do" in exactly the same manner as we would use "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
  • Origins of the capital's and therefore the empire's name are unclear. "Nilf" seems to be corrupted version of Icelandic "nifl" (fog, darkness, mist; like in "Niflheim"), while "gaard" could be either Dutch "gaard" (yard, garden), Danish "gaard/gård" (farm) or Old Norse "garðr" (yard, enclosure).
  • Nilfgaardian Lemon is one of the strong alcohols available for Geralt's consumption in The Witcher (PC) but is non-consumable in The Witcher 3, where it's used only as an ingredient.
  • Tw3 icon gwent hero nilfgaard
    In The Witcher 3 there are four armor sets inspired by Nilfgaard: the Nilfgaardian Armor set, the Great Sun armor set, the Impera Brigade armor set, and the Nilfgaardian guardsman armor set; there is also a Nilfgaardian Empire gwent deck.
  • In terms of color scheme and armor design, the Nilfgaardian military is very reminiscent of certain parts of the military of the Holy Roman Empire (not to be confused with the earlier Roman Empire), specifically their royal armor.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt only
  2. in the movie and TV series only
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 in The Witcher 2 only
  4. 4.0 4.1 in The Witcher (PC) only

GalleryEdit