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"Do you really wish to know?"
Spoilers from the books and/or games to follow!
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They say it's the game of kings. That chess teaches one to think strategically. What a load of rubbish!... Both sides have identical pieces, the rules stay invariably the same. How does this mirror real life?
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- Radovid discussing politics, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Radovid V the Stern (Polish: Radowid V Srogi) was the king of Redania from the Redanian Dynasty in the last quarter of the 13th century. His reign became, along with witch hunts, one of the defining factors of the post-war period that followed the Peace of Cintra.

He inherited his titles and estates as the only son of King Vizimir II and Queen Hedwig of Malleore. His two older sisters were Dalimira and Milena.

Even though his father died in 1267, Prince Radovid didn't succeed him immediately because he was only twelve at the time and for several years the kingdom was governed by a Regency Council under influential Duke Nitert and Count Sigismund Dijkstra, the-then spymaster of Redanian Secret Service.

Radovid bore a deep aversion towards mages that stemmed from his father being secretly assassinated by an unknown elf at the behest of the sorceress advisor Philippa Eilhart,[5] who then pulled strings from behind his back, ruled in his name and dominated and demeaned him throughout his youth.

Biography Edit

Early life Edit

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I knew she had marriage plans regarding Ciri, I think it concerned the young Tankred Thyssen... and perhaps the Redanian, Radovid.
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- Crach an Craite to Yennefer, The Tower of the Swallow
Radovid was born in 1255 in Tretogor to the royal pair, King Vizimir II and Queen Hedwig of Malleore, as their third child in a row. He grew up with two older sisters: Dalimira, called familiarly Dalka, and Milena who was known as Milka in a similar fashion. Dalka eventually dedicated her life to the priesthood after her failed engagement with King Foltest of Temeria who instead chose to marry his own sister Adda, while Milka attended Aretuza to become a sorceress Millegarda.[6]

When Prince Radovid was 9 years old he was formally engaged to Cirilla, Princess of Cintra, when she was 12. The engagement was formalized between his father and Queen Calanthe, Ciri's grandmother, but the king broke the engagement off after half a year without giving any explanation and Ciri and Radovid never even had a chance to talk to each other.[7]

Regency years Edit

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The ambassador knew that Dijkstra was exaggerating, but not inordinately. Prince Radovid was still a minor, Queen Hedwig distraught by her husband's tragic death, and the aristocracy intimidated, stupefied, at variance and divided into factions.
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- Redanian situation in Baptism of Fire
On the day of the outbreak of the Second Northern War with Nilfgaardian Empire, his father had unexpectedly fallen victim to an elven assassin.[8] A fact unknown to practically anyone was that it was Philippa Eilhart, at the time fighting on Thanedd Island, who hired the elf in order to gain more direct rule.[5] Redania fell into chaos, as usually happens in such circumstances, and Queen Hedwig wasn't in a state to control things. The aristocracy started to organize itself into factions, attempting to tear some land out for each and every one of them. Several practically licked the boots of Nilfgaardian emissaries led by Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen and were ready to rule with Nilfgaardian blessing, only to be caught off guard and stopped by the famous Redanian Secret Service. There remained but a handful of those who were spared, those with important enough social status and armed might to maintain peace, like Duke Nitert.[8]

Nitert was put in charge of the Regency Council appointed to save the realm from a total civil war and they managed to do so, by hanging everyone they deemed traitor in specially modified fortifications with internment camps - most infamous of which would be Drakenborg. Its members, however, overlooked their underage crown prince and none of the Northern Kingdoms' elites, not even Philippa who took it upon herself to raise him, expected him to grow into a firm monarch who would repay all humiliations he and his mother had suffered during the interregnum.[9]

Reign Edit

The following is considered game canon only and may contradict Andrzej Sapkowski's works.
Radovid V the Stern was a polarising figure. Some considered him a brilliant strategist and a superb general. Others - a bloodthirsty, paranoid madman. There were also many who saw his policies as harsh but justified. The truth lay, as the truth always does, somewhere in the middle.

During the early years of his reign, Radovid proved a capable political actor, manipulating events to the advantage of both his own position and Redania's. He utilised Redania's famed spy network to foster links with multiple potential allies, picking and choosing as he saw fit while ensuring those discarded were destroyed. In all his political actions, he attempted to embody the idea that a king should be ruthless towards his foes and generous to his friends.

Later, he would prove a capable general, leading his armies to many victories over both Northern and Nilfgaardian forces. He espoused the idea that a soldier was only as good as their breastplate- even the best swordsman could fail if felled by a stray arrow or a lucky blow. Therefore, he ensured that his armies were well-equipped, allowing his quartermasters as much gold as was needed to keep his infantry in solid armour.

Radovid, knowing that human soldiers were neither as strong as dwarves nor as dextrous as elves, identified their key advantage: their numbers. A mass of humans, led by a capable of commander, could overwhelm an individually superior force. His final military philosophy concerned the effectiveness of heavy cavalry, and he would suggest that any battlefield problem could be overcome by a gallant charge. These tactics would see him through several successful military campaigns, culminating in a potential conquering of nearly the entirety of the Northern Kingdoms and the defeat of the invading Nilfgaardian forces of Emhyr var Emreis's third invasion.[10]

The Witcher (PC)Edit

Radovid is mentioned now and again throughout the game, but in Chapter III, Geralt gets to meet the king face to face. Their first meeting is not actually "live" as Radovid's image is merely visible courtesy of a telecommunicator, Hartmann's mirror. Their second meeting is actually face-to-face and in the flesh and takes place at Radovid's hideout. He is then seen outside the city on the landing at the beginning of Chapter V. Their final meeting is in Vizima's Trade Quarter.

In the game, Radovid is attempting the same thing his father tried a couple of decades before: joining the royal families of Redania and Temeria. Because of this, he asks Geralt's opinion about Adda. He fostered a link with Salamandra through "mutual acquaintances", and at one point considered them a possible ally; however, he eventually discarded them. A mannered, calculating individual, he is more refined than his opposite number Foltest but no less ruthless.

If Geralt manages to break Adda's curse anew, there is a scene of the happy couple promising a bright future and the union of the two kingdoms into one. If Geralt kills the striga, though, Radovid reigns alone in Redania.

Associated quests Edit

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Edit

Radovid screen2

Radovid is a main character in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. He participates in the talks at Loc Muinne during Chapter III and plays a major role in deciding its outcome.

"This child is a bastard." - Radovid when John Natalis declares Anaïs the rightful heir of Temeria during A Summit of Mages.

Journal entryEdit

When Radovid's father, Vizimir II, had fallen victim to an assassin a few years earlier, the prince had had but thirteen summers. The country fell into chaos, as usually happens in such circumstances, and queen Hedwig would not have been able to control things. The aristocracy, as they tend to, started to organize themselves into factions, attempting to tear something out for themselves. Some practically licked the boots of Nilfgaardian emissaries, doing so with much practice and a real sense of commitment. The Regency Council appointed to save the kingdom from the conflict managed to do so, and properly hung the traitors, yet its members disregarded their underage ruler. Therefore nobody among the Redanian nobles expected that Radovid would grow up to become a firm monarch who would repay all humiliations he and his mother had suffered during the regency. The king was quick to show that, if his father had earned the moniker of"the Just", he would be remembered by history as "the Stern".
If Geralt chooses Iorveth's path during the end of chapter I:
The sorceress Philippa Eilhart had the dubious pleasure of seeing the aptness of Radovid's moniker with her own eyes, so to speak. After presenting her with a list of charges, reinforced with personal animosity and information from the Imperial envoy, the king had her eyes put out. You might say that Radovid couldn't turn a blind eye to her sins.
Even before Geralt related his impressions of the discussion with Radovid to me, I already had an feeling that it would be best to avoid attracting the Redanian monarch's interest to my modest self. When Geralt ended up in his dungeon, the king unhesitatingly provided him with a list of arguments detailing why it was in Redania's national interest that the future be deeply unpleasant for the witcher and Triss. He did point out, however, that it was nothing personal.
Unlike the proud and sometimes self-centered Foltest, or the fitful, coarse Henselt, the king of Redania was a reserved, calculating politician. Geralt learned that he was not the sort of man that would allow himself to be deceived or led astray by prevarication. The king could instantly sense falsehoods and was gifted at maneuvering his opponents into revealing whatever information he desired.
Radovid had very specific plans concerning his neighbor, the chaos-riddled Temeria. With the prospect of another war against Nilfgaard looming, he and the Kaedweni monarch aimed to partition Temeria in order to forestall the Empire from acquiring its lands.
If Geralt chooses Roche's path during the end of chapter I:
Radovid wanted to use Geralt to recover Anaïs La Valette, King Foltest's youngest child. Although she was oblivious to the fact, the girl was a trump card in a high-stakes game. The prize: Foltest's legacy.
If Geralt chooses to give Anaïs La Valette to him:
Radovid had very specific plans concerning his neighbor, the chaos-riddled Temeria. In this situation Fate, embodied by a certain witcher and a military captain, had delivered Anaïs La Valette, Foltest's illegitimate daughter, into his hands. Thus the Redanian king had a strong argument that Temeria should be acknowledged a Redanian protectorate. Thanks to skillful political maneuvering, Radovid greatly strengthened himself and his kingdom's position.
If Geralt chooses to give Anaïs La Valette to John Natalis:
Radovid had very specific plans concerning his neighbor, the chaos-riddled Temeria. Yet Fate, embodied by a certain witcher and a military captain, had delivered Anaïs La Valette, Foltest's illegitimate daughter, into the hands of Temeria's regent, John Natalis. Radovid would have to find some other way to expand his dominion.

The Witcher 3: Wild HuntEdit

Tw3 Radovid on his ship

Radovid V also appears in the third game. Radovid remained the only monarch to have the strength to resist Nilfgaard.[11] During the winter break, he invaded a weakened Kaedwen and absorbed the Kaedweni forces into his own.[12]

Radovid re-encounters Geralt when he and Roche come looking for the whereabouts of Cyprian "Whoreson Junior" Wiley. As Junior had already served his purpose to break up the Big Four of Novigrad's underground, Radovid provided the information in exchange for a favour from Geralt later on. As soon as Geralt leaves Whoreson's estate, Redanian soldiers bring him before Radovid on his flagship, the HMS Oxenfurt-Tretogor. Radovid assigns Geralt to find Philippa Eilhart and bring her to him alive.

Later on in story, after carrying out a series of tasks for Sigismund Dijkstra and Vernon Roche, Geralt can take part in a plot to assassinate Radovid, in retaliation for his mage/nonhuman hunts. If Geralt joins the conspiracy, he lures Radovid to the Saint Gregory Bridge by telling him that Philippa Eilhart is hiding there. Radovid is skeptical of the witcher's claim, as previously, a rumor went around that he would pay a hefty bounty for information about Philippa. A queue formed up at his ship, with all manner of greedy people thinking they'd be rewarded handsomely. The first was a hunter, who brought a dead owl with no eyes, whom Radovid had blinded and thrown overboard with a stone tied around his neck. The second was the postmaster from Oxenfurt who claimed to have a letter she penned; Radovid determined it was forged, so Radovid cut off his fingers and tongue for his lies; the queue dispersed quickly. Geralt is able to prove his claim by presenting his father Vizimir's ring, which Philippa used to stamp her decrees in Vizimir's name.

Once at the bridge, Radovid ordered Geralt executed simply because he irritated him. Temerians then attack Radovid and his men, cutting them down in a ferocious battle. Radovid tries to run away, but is surprised by Philippa, who shows up to get her revenge. She blows a powder in his face that blinds him and causes him agonizing pain, before she finally stabs him to death.

Associated quests Edit

Journal entry Edit

It did not take long for King Radovid of Redania to prove himself a hard and ruthless ruler, one fully deserving to be styled "the Stern." His father, King Vizimir, was murdered when Radovid was quite young, and his mother, Hedwig of Malleore, and a Regency Council ruled in his stead.
Young Radovid soon seized power in his own right, however, and wrought vengeance on those who had treated him with disrespect. He took to forcing all his potential political opponents to swear allegiance – or face death.
He waged war not only against Nilfgaard, but also against mages, whom he saw as the root of all evil. Radovid also made every effort to gain control over the Free City of Novigrad, whose fleet and treasury could tip the scales of the ongoing conflict towards Radovid's victory.
Geralt's meeting with Radovid confirmed the rumors circling around the king's mental state. The Redanian king was a dangerous madman trapped in his own world of disturbing visions. This did not make him one jot less intelligent or cunning, however.
Despite his mental afflictions, the young king was manipulating his opponents like an adroit puppet master.
Radovid burned with particularly intense hostility (first kindled in his earliest childhood days) for the sorceress Philippa Eilhart. Rumors spoke of how he had prepared a special torture regimen just for her - and while the two dozen points they mentioned were surely an exaggeration, they accurately conveyed the general scale of his hatred.
If Geralt completes Reason of State:
The terror of Radovid's reign had led not just enemies, but also his allies and even his subjects to long for his death.
The phrase "monster in human flesh" fit Radovid the Stern perfectly. Perhaps it was awareness of all the cruel and bestial acts this madman perpetrated that led the witcher to get involved in the plans for his assassination.
Hatred for Philippa Eilhart proved to be Radovid's weakness. He was ready to do anything to capture her - even abandon the safe confines of his flagship.
The plan for luring Radovid out of hiding worked, though not without complications. Irritated by Geralt's typical cheek, Radovid brayed for the witcher's blood, and Geralt only dodge the executioner's axe thanks to the intervention of his co-conspirators.
Perhaps the delay this caused was what allowed the ruler to nearly escape his assassins, but in the end he could not cheat fate and died at the hands of Philippa Eilhart, who descended suddenly, a veritable demon of vengeance, to revenge the wrongs he had done her.

Trivia Edit

  • Radovid has the face of Michał Madej, chief designer of The Witcher.
  • Radovid may be very well inspired by Polish and Czech king Boleslaus I the Brave.
  • Redanian Herbal, according to its description, is called "stern" in honour of Radovid.
  • Although Radovid is 3 years younger than Ciri, in The Witcher 3 he looks much older than her. As Geralt said in The Witcher 2, time in another world flows differently.
  • In the first game his role is of little significance. You see it in Foltest's behavior towards the young ruler. In the second game he becomes a significant figure in the Northern Kingdoms. In the third he becomes the most powerful ruler in the North.
  • Radovid's name can be translated as "A joyful sight" (RADOst - Joy, and VID - Look, Appearance)
  • If Geralt chooses to kill Radovid in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, he can still hear Redanian Soldiers yelling "Long Live Radovid".

Videos Edit

Gallery Edit

References Edit

  1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt propaganda posters
  2. 2.0 2.1 in The Witcher game series
  3. Depending on choices made in The Witcher (PC)
  4. Depending on choices made in the first two games
  5. 5.0 5.1 Though not explicitly stated in the book series, there are huge hints to Philippa being behind the assassination by the end of The Lady of the Lake. The final confirmation comes from 2001 Polish fan interview with Andrzej Sapkowski.
  6. Redanian Dynasty - Vizimir II
  7. Redanian Dynasty - Radovid V
  8. 8.0 8.1 Time of Contempt
  9. The Lady of the Lake
  10. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
  11. Radovid V the Stern - The Hard Slog to Greatness
  12. Conversation between Ambassador and Geralt

External links Edit

  • Gwent icon See the GWENT standalone game version card: Radovid