Nilfgaard, 'The Witcher' Empire Everyone Seems to Hate, Explained

Photo credit: IMDB
Photo credit: IMDB

From Men's Health

  • Netflix's The Witcher features several medieval-style kingdoms including, Nilfgaard

  • Nilfgaard appears several times across early episodes before becoming the major antagonist of the series

  • How did they go from laughing stock to conquering army? Also, what is a Nilfgaard?

Whether you're halfway through The Witcher's first season or have already plowed through the story (and the side quests), you've probably heard the name "Nilfgaard" quite a bit—and no, that's not where they took the hobbits.

In the the novel series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, Nilfgaard was modeled after the Roman Empire, and their military garb after the later Holy Roman Empire. The kingdom lies to the south of Cintra (Ciri's home), and over the course of a decade embarks on three separate wars with its northern neighbor, Cintra. The Nilfaardians love war.

In the Netflix series, we first find Nilfgaard as the kingdom everybody loathes. Yennifer doesn't want to be the mage to the Nilfaardian king. Queen Calanthe of Cintra (that's the war-monger and grandmother of Ciri) openly mocks the kingdom at her daughter, Pavetta's, wedding. Because fuck Nilfgaard, apparently.

But that was all back before the First Northern War twelve years later, when the southern kingdom, slowly expanding and amassing territory, invades and sacks Sintra, killing Calanthe and forcing Ciri to flee north into the wilderness. (All of which somehow stems from Geralt not taking responsibility for, Ciri, his sudden god child, twelve years earlier. Because destiny, apparently.)

Most events of the show take place at this later time—when Nilfaard is not a laughing stock but actually the most powerful military on The Continent. Over the course of the next decade, they will wage two more wars against the north. So there's probably a lot of bloody battles left to fight—and for Netflix to throw money at, like a coin to your witcher.

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