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The Northern Wars were a series of wars fought between the southern Nilfgaardian Empire and coalitions of Northern Kingdoms in the 13th century. Nilfgaard's foray into the North began with the annexation of minor kingdoms in 1239. By invading the Kingdom of Cintra during 1263, it sparked a mobilisation of Northern forces in response, resulting in the First Northern War. As a consequence of the Empire's continued incursions, the Second Northern War broke out in 1267, concluding the next year with the signing of a major peace settlement.

The Empire's inhabitants refer to the conflicts as the Nordling Wars, whereas that term is rarely used in the North, where they are known as the Nilfgaard Wars.

Nilfgaard's conquests in the South[]

Decades prior to the First Northern War, the Nilfgaardian Empire began expanding northward through military incursions and political maneuvers, taking the regions of Ebbing, Maecht, Metinna and Nazair.

  • 1239, the annexation of Ebbing (a precipitating event)

First Nilfgaard-Nordling War[]

Invasion of Cintra[]

Fighting in Upper Sodden[]

Attack on Lower Sodden[]

Second Nilfgaard-Nordling War[]



Defenders (Northerners):

The question of Cintra[]

Before the War[]

Start of the War[]

Phase I - Aggression in Dol Angra[]

  • Invasion of southern Lyria - blitzkrieg.
  • One fifth of the Lyrian troops are surrounded and confined to strongholds and forts within Aedirn.
  • Continuation of the invasion of Lyria and the taking of the fortresses Scala and Spalla (July 4).
  • Siege and capture of Rivia.
  • Queen Meve's army is pushed back towards the north.
  • The Battle of Aldersberg.
  • Siege and capture of Vengerberg.
  • Nilfgaardian Army troops move on Demawend, taking the Pontar valley as far as Dol Blathanna.
  • Queen Meve gathers a large army of survivors and rejoins the fight.
  • Kaedwen Aggression - the Dun Banner, light cavalry from Ban Gleán reach the river Dyfne.
  • The Nilfgaard-Kaedwen division of Aedirn - Henselt of Kaedwen takes the so-called Lormark (land in Aedirn north of the river Dyfne).
  • Emhyr var Emreis creates Dol Blathanna (Valley of Flowers). Located in the eastern part of Aedirn, a puppet kingdom for the elves led by the sorceress Francesca Findabair also known as Enid an Gleanna and Filavandrel aén Fidháil, King of the Elves of the Blue Mountains.
  • Ervyll of Verden pays tribute to the Emperor of Nilfgaard - Emhyr var Emreis blocks the mouth of the Yaruga preventing Foltest's counter-attack.
  • King Foltest hammers out a truce with Emhyr var Emreis - Temerian troops enter and occupy the western Aedirn fort of Hagge.
  • Army of Aedirn marches to Temeria via the Mahakam mountains; Demawend flees to Redania.

Phase II - Invasion of Brugge and Sodden[]

The Nilfgaardian spring offensive plan[]

Imperator Emhyr var Emreis gave up his immediate military pursuits and decided to put off the offensive for a year. He did so for two reasons: The upcoming winter was predicted to be particularly harsh and cold, which complicated the key issue which was supplying the army. Any passable roads were very important; and the second reason was that the attack on Temeria, while resulting in a victory at Maribor, was simply too quick and easy. The number of troops was technically insufficient to win the battle, suggesting that the fortress at Mayena had been left under-defended. A great offensive was planned, but it would not begin until the following spring.

The primary target of attack was Temeria. The Center Army Group was to depart for attack from Sodden under the command of Field Marshal Menno Coehoorn. They were ordered to invade the kingdom of Temeria and reach the river Pontar, the main Novigrad-Vizima-Ellander trade route. On the Eastern Front, the East Army Group, under the command of duke Ardal aep Dahy, was to attack the Pontar valley and kingdom of Kaedwen, moving from Aedrin, and securing Menno Coehoorn's flank. The divisions from the East Army Group were to prevent king Henselt of Kaedwen from aiding king Foltest of Temeria. The Verden Operations Group, led by duke Joachim de Wett, was to take Cidaris and move towards north to completely cut off Novigrad, Gors Velen and Vizima. The general staff decided that it was necessary to block these three important settlements.

300 thousand troops, counting the main forces and reserves, both men and elves, were to take part in the spring offensive.

Phase III - The Temerian offensive[]

Phase III, known also as the great offensive on the kingdom of Temeria. In this phase, the Nilfgaardian attack reaches its apogee and has an unseen scale. However the Northern Kingdoms, after heavy losses in the previous two phases, stand side by side to face the common enemy together. The united allied forces are making some bold offensive actions against the enemy, therefore they become a worthy opponent for, so far unbeaten, Nilfgaardian invasion forces.

The Western Front[]

On the west front, the offensive on Temeria did not bring the expected result, this was caused by foolishness decrepitude way of command of main commander, duke Joachim de Wett. The annalists say that: Duke de Wett led his Operation Group "Verden" in a way that the word "bogocity" is too delicate.

Joachim de Wett was an active plotter in the nobles' conspiracy. The other main plotters were dukes Ardal aep Dahy, Leuvaarden, count Broinne and emperor's coroner Stefan Skellen, Skellen also had a support of the sorcerer Vilgefortz. The conspiracy was to overthrow and kill the Nilfgaard's emperor, Emhyr var Emreis. The great dukes of Nilfgaard felt humiliated, deceived and betrayed by Emhyr, for he rejected their offers to marry their daughters and marry Cirilla of Cintra instead. However, Emhyr var Emreis had a vast number of supporters, the inner troops and fanatic guard called "Impera", therefore the civil war was not taken into account. The plotters planned to assassinate Emhyr using the hypnotized killer, the sorceress Yennefer who was imprisoned by Vilgefortz. They assumed that they would be able to convert the remainder of the army on their side, especially the officers, for they were angry at Emhyr for the purging after the loss under Sodden, and the people for they were sick of the destructive ongoing war. After the assassination of the emperor, the plotters planned to put duke Voorhis or his Morvran, so the Council of Regency, the great dukes and high nobles, would rule in his name. Emhyr var Emreis, predicting the plot, sent Ardal aep Dahy and Joachim de Wett to command the armies of Nilfgaard in the war with Temeria. By that he moved them and their loyal troops away from throne. When Emhyr did that he "signed the declaration of his own death", because the dukes did not want Emhyr to win this war.

Joachim de Wett was lingering with the offensive toward north, the only kingdom in his way was Cidaris, and Nilfgaardian army outnumbered them two to one. He concentrated his army to fight with Verden's guerrillas. He wanted to secure his back and wipe out all the rebels and brigands first. On his order, the Operation Group "Verden" made some cruel acts during the fightings with guerrillas, not only on them but on the innocent civilian people too. The outcome of that was easy to predict. Verden's guerrillas counted about five hundred in force in winter, then in the spring the entire country had rebelled against the invaders. King Ervyll of Verden, who was loyal to Nilfgaard, was murdered and his son, prince Kistrin, was put as a leader of the uprising.

The Operation Group did not have to fight only with the Verden's guerrillas but also with the army of King Ethain of Cidaris, who used the situation and attacked with the aid of Crach en Craite of the Skellige Islands, Crach had made some bold attacks on the west shore of Verden. Joachim de Wett was forced to fight on all fronts and he was losing battle after battle. Instead of blocking the west flank of the Nordlings, he blocked the Center Army Group under the command of Field Marshal Menno Coehoorn.

The Eastern Front[]

Situation remains unchanged, Ardal aep Dahy, commanding the East Army, occupies Lyria, Rivia and Aedirn. He does not attack Kaedwen either, which has taken the upper part of Aedirn. Because of this action, Ardal aep Dahy was unable to attack Temeria from the flank.

The Center Front[]

The actions of duke de Wett had a great psychological effect. The myth about invincible army of Nilfgaard was gone, like snow in the spring, hundreds of volunteers started to join the army. Especially to the threatened army of Temeria (the famous Vizima's troops from the Poor Fucking Infantry division). Queen Hedwig of Redania, had sent Foltest the Redania's troops to aid him and his kingdom. Once separated at the beginning of the war, now, the Northern Kingdoms, stand united to fight the common enemy. The Nordlings were also supported by the Free Company, Dwarfs from Mahakam sent by elder Brouver Hoog of Mahakam.

Nordlings quickly used Nilfgaard's failures and counterattacked. They pushed the enemy troops away from Maribor, preventing Nilfgaard from conquering the fortress, and moved into the north part of Sodden. They were pushing the army of Nilfgaard steadily toward south, that's when the battle of Mayena took place. Nordlings prevailed and defeated the blockade of the fortress. Some troops, due to their losses, moved back and regrouped in Vizima. The uprising in Verden stopped the Field Marshal Menno Coehoorn for some time. Therefore, Coehoorn decided to move out and attack, he departed from the river Ina with his army, counting over one hundred thousand troops. Then the Nilfgaardian forces defeated under Mayena, besieged the fortress again.

It was clear that Temeria's and Redania's forces were unable to defeat Menno Coehoorn and his entire army. The West Army was expected to assault on eastern flank of Temeria through the Pontar valley. From the Pontar valley to the west to Temeria and Redania, it was a straight and open road to those two kingdoms. However, to get to Pontar valley, duke Ardal aep Dahy would have to attack Kaedwen. King Henselt of Kaedwen expected that, he could not stop, all alone, the East Army.

Nordlings, aware of that, quickly changed their strategy. They decided to not stop the offensive actions, especially in the moment when they had forces and supplies to continue them, they did not allowed Nilfgaard to respond to those bold attacks. The entire allied army, counting the regular and reserves of Temerian and Redanian troops and allied divisions, marched south to aid fortress of Mayena. They hoped to get there before the Menno Coehoorn's Middle Army. Field Marshal Coehoorn immediately marched to the west in order to block the allied army from getting to Mayena. So he divided his force, he sent the entire infantry to Mayena to aid in the siege. he took with himself the IV Cavalry Army and the entire cavalry from the III Army, therefore he assembled the cavalry counting about forty six thousand men. Thanks to his decision, Menno Coehoorn, was able to move faster and made his way towards the allied army of Northern Kingdoms. The main commander of the allied army, King Foltest of Temeria, facing the incoming power of Nilfgaard, he put his army between the Chotla river and the village of Brenna (which was burnt into ground at the moment). Everything was indicating that there will be a great battle between Nilfgaard and Nordlings, and so it did happened.

Battle of Brenna - The turning point[]

This battle is the culmination of the actions of both the Temerian and Redanian armies, led by king Foltest and the Center Army Group, led by the Field Marshal Menno Coehoorn. The fate of the world changed in that one battle, making it a pivotal point in the Second Nilfgaard-Nordling War. Because of this victory, the North was able to conduct a large counter-offensive on all three fronts and begin Phase IV, the final phase of the war.

Phase IV - Northern coalition counter-offensive[]

IV phase, known also as the Counter attack of the Nordlings. After the significant victory of the allied army over the most powerful Nilfgaardian army, the Middle Army, after the Battle of Brenna, the offensive was broken. The greatest force of emperor Emhyr var Emreis were shattered, and all of the world learned it very soon. The bravery and confidence came to the Nordlings' hearts, like sun rises after a dark night, and following the counterattack on the central front, other allied armies moved towards south.

The Central Front[]

The rout of the Middle Army after the battle of Brenna, caused by Temerian and Redanian forces, had a long term effects. The tide of war was on the side of the Northern Kingdoms, they decided to not stop for rest and partying but to take advantage of the success. The most active commander on the front was John Natalis, the constable of king Foltest, commanding, side by side with him, the allied forces under Brenna. Natalis quickly took, following the example of Menno Coehoorn, the cavalry unit and marched from Brenna's fields to the fortress of Mayena. In the meantime, the other group of the Middle Army, after learning that there is a huge army of Nordlings awaiting Niflgaardian army, moved towards north to aid Coehoorn. However the remainder of the army did not know about the outcome of the battle which gave John Natalis big advantage. With the cavalry unit, which main body was the Free Company from Kovir, he attacked the column of the Middle Army's infantry, the attack was so sudden that Nilfgaard's forces routed, therefore the constable John Natalis fulfilled the full defeat of the Coehoorn's army on the central front. The unnamed battle, that occurred had place on the road between Mayena and Maribor. The commander of the Nilfgaard's troops, in Sodden, after learning the outcome of the battle of Brenna and Natalis' victory, over the army that was to aid Coehoorn, decided to retreat to Riverdell and Angren, in order to separate his army from the army of Nordlings by the Ina river. Meanwhile, John Natalis surprised everyone, instead of advancing to Mayena and chasing the Nilfgaardian army, he moved to the west, to the Chotla river. The goal of this diversion was to release Brugge from the Nilfgaardian occupation and strike on the forces of the duke Joachim de Wett and settle the war on the western front.

The Western Front[]

The doom threatened Joachim de Wett. The only direction from which Nordlings did not attacked him was, on the east from Brugge. John Natalis marching from Sodden, leading the Temerian and other allied forces, wanted to attack de Wett from the east. Natalis was heading east with forced march, however, his army had slow down in the central Brugge, where the allied forces where forced to besiege the cities of Brugge and Dillingen. It gave de Wett enough time to prepare. The "Verden" Group could not settle the fate of the war on the western front. He could not win with the guerrillas from Verden, with Kistrin leading them, he could not stop the warriors from the Skellige Islands and was unable to respond on attacks from Cidars, with king Ethain leading Cidaris' army. It was obvious to him that the fight with John Natalis could worsen already catastrophic situation in Verden. De Wett decided to evacuate back through the Yaruga river to Cintra. He secured his retreat by leaving strong crews in the powerful Verden's fortresses, Nastrog, Rozrog and Bodrog. Joachim de Wett, after retreating back to Cintra, he was able to defend himself from behind Yaruga, the crews he left in the fortresses were defending themselves from Nordlings until the end of the war and left Verden after Peace of Cintra.

The Eastern Front[]

The eastern front was the only front in which Emhyr var Emreis had an advantage over Nordlings. It all changed after the battle of Brenna. Primo : after the Temerian and Redanian victory over Menno Coehoorn in Sodden, it was time for Kaedwen's army and the remains of the Aedrin troops to demonstrate themselves in the war. the victory under Brenna gave the new shot of bravery and confidence and brought together quarreled kings Demawend and Henselt, they both shook hands, in a symbol to work and cooperate together. Secundo : The East Army, under the command of Ardal aep Dahy, had a task to aid Coehoorn's offensive on Temeria after getting an eventual help from Kaedwen. Meanwhile, the Middle Army was completely vanquished so the goal of the Nilfgaardian army in Aedrin was unknown. This time of hesitation was immediately used by the Nordlings. Still few in numbers, the recreated army of Demawend with the Temerian crew left the fort of Hagge and marched towards south-east, meanwhile the Henselt's army crossed the armistice line on the Dyfne river and began the offensive against Ardal aep Dahy's army. Nilfgaardian commander, not knowing what to do began retreat to south, it was his largest mistake made. He could defend himself easily from Nordlings on the Kaedwen's border. He had stretch the front, because Demawend was coming from the west, and had to prepare for attack from the north and defend Dol Blathanna, because the Francesca Findabair and Filavandrel did not had enough elves to form capable army. So the valley of flowers was written off after the vicious revenge of the Nordlings it was called later "The valley of ashes". Duke Ardal aep Duhy stopped retreating and decided to stop in south Aedrin and defend himself there, the line of his defence was settled by the city of Aldersberg. The forces of Nilfgaard and Nordlings were balanced so Henselt and Demawend were not so hasty with an attack. Everything changed when all of a sudden the main commander of the East Army died, Ardal aep Dahy was dead. After Nordling found about this they attacked and the battle was known as Second battle of Aldersberg. Joined Aedrin's and Kaedwen's forces defeated the East Army. The second battle of Aldersberg settled the war on the eastern front. The liberation of kingdom of Aedrin started (the capital city of Vengerberg was liberated as one of the first), the chaotic retreat of East Army through Lyria where Queen Meve fought a guerrilla warfare, and march of the Kaedwen's forces to Yaruga river.

The end of the war[]

On the western front, Verden was liberated, however, there were still three fortress occupied by Nilfgaard are still resisting the Nordling forces. King Foltest and his army liberates Lower Sodden from the Nilfgaard's occupation. Nilfgaard forces, greatly outnumbered, retreat through Yaruga river to empower the defence there. On the eastern front the Nilfgaard forces are retreating back to the empire, and the Kaedwen's army reaches Dol Angra, the place were the war started. Nilfgaard was loosing on all fronts. Northern kings gave up the idea of liberating Cintra, they already controlled the right shore of Yaruga and all retreating Nilfgaardian forces were there, and together they were a great military power. Both north and south had enough of the destructive war. The negotiations started and there was a proposed truce, stop the military actions and don't cross the borders. It was settled that at the 2nd of April, all leaders of countries involved in war, were to meet in Cintra to negotiate a peace and bring a new order to the world.

Peace of Cintra[]

Peace of Cintra signed, on 2 April in the year 1268, between Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaard ending the Second Nilfgaardian-Nordling War and new order is brought to the world.

Third Nilfgaard-Nordling War[]

In The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings[]

In 1274 (dated in the game as 1271) the Northern kings, sorcerers, sorceresses and Nilfgaardian ambassador, Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen, assemble in Loc Muinne. The assembly was to decide the future borders and powers in the Northern Kingdoms, also restoring the Council and the Conclave of sorcerers. However, it is revealed that the regicides and subsequent blame assigned to the Lodge was carried out by Letho under the orders of Emhyr var Emreis himself.

As heated talks dominated the discussions, the Nilfgaardian army crossed the Yaruga and steadily marching north, with the empire using the death of multiple rulers to its advantage.

In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt[]

The war continues to rage on, Nilfgaard has advanced through Aedirn and most of Temeria, reaching the banks of the Pontar. Only Radovid's Redania forms a substantial obstacle to the Emperor's ambitions, having also absorbed Kaedweni forces into its ranks. The region of Velen (northern Temeria) has been subject to some of the most fiercest of clashes, with both armies aiming to take Novigrad and its riches. More reinforcements from the south are expected to replenish Nilfgaard's partially-depleted legions, although rumours of discontent amongst Nilfgaardian nobility and trade corporations abound.

See also[]