Nordling

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Nordlings
Caingorn army.jpg
King Niedamir's dragon-hunting company, consisting of Caingornese and Barefielders
General Information
Classification
Human culture
Locations
Northern Realms, northern provinces of the Nilfgaardian Empire
Languages
Common Speech
Physical Description
Hair
Often brown, black, blond or red; people of elven heritage often have more unique colors
Skin
Most often pale or swarthy
Exemplary names
First or second names
Male: Agloval, Bode, Budibog, Connor, Cyrus, Dragomir, Egmund, Fenn, Geralt, Harlan, Ivo, Korin, Mansfeld, Niedamir, Olsen, Vitek, Wledyr, Xander, Yurga, Zyvik
Female: Aridea, Adela, Bernika, Carezza, Debora, Eliza, Fenne, Fialka, Ildiko, Lille, Myrrha, Nadia, Rayla, Sancia, Shani, Vespula
Family names or surnames
Nordlings often use names of places where they live or were born instead of surname, like "of Aelle". Noble houses even make family names from their seats, like "de Navarette". However, surnames unrelated to places exist as well, examples: Esposito, Etcheverry, Lantieri, Merigold, Michelet, Pratt, Södergren, Thyssen, Trethevey, Vierny

A Nordling is an inhabitant of the Northern Kingdoms on the Continent, belonging to human cultures dominant in those realms. It is a colloquialism often applied to Northerners by Nilfgaardians, but rarely used by populations of the North themselves.

History[edit | edit source]

The ancestors of Nordlings came to the Continent during the Landings, beggining with the Landing of the Exiles around the 760s. Though relatively small in number at the beginning, thanks to their military art and fertility they managed to conquer the land belonging to the Elder Races during a few centuries. At the height of their range, Nordlings had states from Kestrel and Dragon Mountains in the north to possibly even Ebbing in the south – the southernmost known area where the Common Speech is the main language.

Their might began to vanish in the 13th century, when armies of the Nilfgaardian Empire started so-called Northern Wars, ultimately conquering almost every land south to the Yaruga.

At the time when Encyclopaedia Maxima Mundi is written, several centuries after the plot of the Witcher series, the Common Speech is considered endangered or even dead language, though some realms like Cidaris are still referred to as the "Northern Kingdoms".

Physical description[edit | edit source]

Being a mix-up of several waves of settlers and native nonhuman societies, Nordlings can have various physical traits. They are tall and short, skinny and muscular, slim and stocky. Hair color varies as well: black, blond, brown and red are most often mentioned. People of elven heritage sometimes have more unique hair or eye color, like in case of mousy-ashen-gray haired Ciri or purple-eyed Yennefer. Nordling characters of described skin color are pale or swarthy. There is also one example of black-skinned person, Leila of Gors Velen, which could suggest that residents of seaside trade cities may be even more diverse.

There is a confusion among some groups of fans concerning Sigismund Dijkstra since his complexion was described as "of a hog". Hogs can be brown, pink or other-colored, which could make him another outstanding example.

Society[edit | edit source]

Nordlings live in a feudal society and their lands are shredded between several kings and dukes. They are mostly agricultural society, running several farmlands providing food for cities and the nobility. Folks living near the sea or rivers often deal with fishing or aquaculture. The industry is less important, and is often leaved to the mages, like those of Rissberg, or assimilated nonhumans, most often gnomes or dwarves.

Most of Nordlings own and bear weapons. Even in some capital cities people bear arms, to the extent that "everyone in Vizima bear a weapon" can be said. People bring weapons even during cultural events, and those who cannot afford buying proper arms, like peasants, use scythes, kitchen knives and other dangerous tools. Exceptions can be found, like in case of Kerack where entering the Upper City is permitted only after leaving the weapons in the guardhouse.

In contrast to the Nilfgaardians or Aen Elle, Nordlings do not practice slavery. Unfortunately, in several lands the situation of peasants or nonhumans is often not an enviable as they are forced to deal with everyday classism or xenophobia as well as strict rules giving them lesser rights than upper classes. For example, only the pureblood nobility can enter cities during the nights, commoners or people of even small percentage of nonhuman genes are dissallowed.

Racial tensions sometimes grow so high, so they culminate during the pogroms. Among the human groups themselves the rascism seems to be rare, with an exception in case of the Rivians living outside of their land who are mockingly referred to as "Rivs"[1] and widely perceived as robbers and thugs. Geralt was mistakenly recognized as a Rivian and attacked by Vizimans in The Fox once.

The mages have really high position in Nordling society. Members of the Brotherhood, whether masters or practicing dwimveandras, are warmly welcome both in rural areas and metropolises. Most renowned sorcerers and sorceresses serve as advisors to monarchs. Many cities and towns have their resident mages who live in towers providing magic assistance and selling magical items. Anti-magic sentiments arise rarely, the most famed and bloody are witch hunts lasting from 1272 to 1276.

Another privileged group is clergy. Several cults, differing in rules and commandments, arose around the vast pantheon of deities and divine powers, and priests and priestesses are often respected members of the society, whether as isolated monks, reverends in small rural parishes or archpriests and hierarchs in vast metropolises. Druids, somehow in between priests and mages, are important as well, though regarded as more mysterious and quite anachronistic.

The situation of women varies throughout the realms. There are several successful warrioresses, priestesses or sorceresses, but there are as well many cases when a young maiden is forced by the family to marry an unwanted person (to do justice though, several young men are forced as well). While a decision to abort is for the most part considered as the indefeasible right, Belohun had tried to force the anti-abortion rights through in Kerack, but his advisor sorceress Lytta Neyd convinced him to change his mind.

The Nordlings seem to be rather liberal in views on non-heterosexual relationships since bi- or homosexual affairs are popular and perceived as normal among the mages. There is at least one example of intolerance in the novels though, when in Common Speech-speaking Loredo one of the members of Pinta gang referred to Ciri and Mistle's relationship as a "perversion".

Witchers are the outcasts of the society. Perceived as unholy mutants, not so better than monsters they fight, these warlocks often face mistrust and hostility from people they protect.

Culture[edit | edit source]

Language and writing systems[edit | edit source]

Basing on languages of the various groups of colonists and nonhumans, Nordlings developed their own tongue, called Common Speech or Common Tongue. It consists of a couple of dialects and people from different parts of the Northern lands are often easily recognised because of their accent.

Two writing systems are in use, First Runes and modern alphabet.

Education[edit | edit source]

In most of the Nordling lands the education is a domain of the upper classes – it's hard to attend university unless one has wealthy or influential family. This isn't the case when it comes to the academies of magic or temple schools, which provide knowledge for everyone with talent and willingness.

One of the known exceptions is a program of the state education started by Griffin of Temeria, who founded the chain of free three-years elementary schools called "griffinettes".

Art[edit | edit source]

The painting is often mentioned as respected art. Rulers often have their court painters, galleries of paintings are found in universities, magical academies, temples and other places.

Arts like music, poetry and the storytelling are the domain of bards, sometimes called minstrels or troubadours, wayfaring men and women who make a living from singing tales, whether on noble courts or during rural festivals. An annual tournament of troubadours is held in Castle Vartburg each autumn.

Religion[edit | edit source]

Nordlings believe in and follow a vast amount of deities they call "Immortal Ones", divine powers, popular prophets, saints and heroes as well as several minor powers or idols like the sacred unicorn worshipped by country dwellers from the Unicorn village. They are polytheistic, but the temples are devoted only to the certain beings.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Though Andrzej Sapkowski does not explore themes alluding to the Polish politics so often, he makes a few exceptions in cases of abortion and right to keep and bear arms. He stated in the interview Historia i fantastyka (History and Fantasy) that as an opponent of prohibition he is a supporter of the idea that each citizen should have a right to abort on demand and bear arms. Since the police is often idle or even being the wrong side (as Geralt says to Fulko Artevelde, big hunts for thugs always result in thugs massively joining the ranks of guardians of the law), the citizen should be able to defend himself or herself from the banditry. Pro-woman attitude is a reaction to constantly reducing the number of cases when the abortion is allowed by the conservatives after the end of Communist rule (see Wikipedia:Abortion in Poland). His views are highlighted a few times during the Saga, like in cases of Milva's abortion dillema and the Hildebrandts defending themselves from the deserters.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. In the Polish edition at least.