In our (mostly) beloved world of Gwent, we have many different religions. They are a very important part of the life of peasants, aristocrats, kings and, well, everyone. There are so many different worships: some count their believers in thousands, others’ you can count on two hands. Different cults have a huge impact on people’s lives. There is only a small number of people who don’t believe in any kind of religion (Geralt for example), but there is normally a long backstory about it. Large numbers of people could die for what they believe in, mostly Skelligers, but not only them. There are mainly 3 groups of religions: Nordling’s* worships, Skelliger’s cults, and Nilfgaardian’s Great Sun religion. And the Firesworn seem to be the most influential Nordling one…
*Nordling is someone from Northern Realms.
The national religion in Redania and Novigrad, and one of the biggest in the whole Northern Realms, the Firesworn are led by Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart and it is one of the most racist and unfavorable to magic, religion in the whole Witcher world. Burning witches, non-humans, or just political opponents isn’t something unusual. The Eternal Fire, although it doesn’t have any official army, is a formidable enemy in battle. Temple guards, the Order of the Flaming Rose, or even witch hunters, all do what Hemmelfart commands. Because of its power and intolerance, not everyone who declares themselves as a firesworn believes in it. But those who believe, believe that the flame will protect the city from monsters. As far as we can tell, it doesn’t work at all. It even might have its own monster species, like Zeugl.
Firesworns burning, well, definitely someone
In TheWitcher: Game of Imagination (polish pen and paper RPG) you can find a nice legend about the origin of Eternal Fire and Novigrad
When the first human colonists left their boats, they saw an amazing elven city. In the few next days, they came closer to the city. And then, elves just simply left it, without a known reason. When colonists were wandering around abandoned buildings, they saw a light from one palace. They came inside and found a human sitting next to the fire burning inside. He gave them food and drinks and said “I protect this – the Eternal Fire. As long as it burns, that city and our civilization will last.” Then he disappeared. A group of people, led by Hieronimus Brunckhorst stayed to protect the fire, and Hieronimus later became the first Hierarch of Novigrad.
Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart
Cyrus is quite an interesting person. The mischievous would describe him as half old man half whale, but there aren’t any who are unkind to him – they were burned a long time ago. But the most iconic thing about him isn’t his look, it is his voice. Gwent says that “Hemmelfart never utters – he thunders”, and it is probably the best comparison. His voice makes people, even his allies, fear him. Nobody remembers how he became firesworn’s leader. Or nobody wants to remember. Sometimes it is just better to not know about certain things. The ear that has heard too many things, is cut off along with the head. He has everything that you can dream of: tons of money, almost unlimited power, and the best prostitutes at his bed. Everybody in Novigrad knows that, but if you would say it loud you would be… yes, burned, how did you know that? People also hear rumors about his meetings with Novigrad’s gang leaders, as they seem to be in some sort of alliance.
Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart
Pope John Paul II Also Hemmelfart
How to blame
Even if the Eternal Fire itself was just religion, it had a bigger impact on the Witcher world than you can imagine. They taught people to blame and to hate. Thousands of lives were brutally ended, to spread the faith. Most of these crimes belong to the Witch Hunters, a highly fanatic organization with sorcerers. Only during the witch hunts between 1272 and 1276 (more or less during the Witcher 3 events) they killed over a dozen mages. The most notable ones were: Assire van Anahid, Síle de Tansarville, Philippa Eilhart, Sabrina Glevissig, Fringilla Vigo, and Adelbertus Kalkstein (even though he wasn’t a mage). The Eternal Fire also heavily supported almost every pogrom, when people were basically trying to kill every non-human in the village. In a single pogrom, people usually kill hundreds of them.
One of the Witch Hunters
Pogrom at Wetteron (in Lyria)
Order of the Flaming Rose
The main military power of the Eternal Fire. Even though it is officially independent, they just do what the church says. They declare themselves as “protectors of the weakest and spreaders of the only proper religion”. The whole organization was built on foundations of The Order of the White Rose, which was operating in Temeria for centuries. But it was heavily reformed by Jacques de Aldersberg, the first Grandmaster of the order. It burned heretics, mages, and non-humans from time to time. His connections with a criminal organization – Salamandra, are also known. The result was the rise of “greater brothers” – mutated, giant monks with superhuman strength. The Order doesn’t last long under Jacques de Aldersberg’s reign, as he was killed by Geralt, a witcher, whose deeds could be talked about for hours. With the death of Jacob, the Order lost its strength. Next, Grandmasters made the order less radical, although the Order had its monasteries in various kingdoms, it remained only in Redania. During the third Nilfgaard war, when the front reached the Pontar, they were sent by Radovid V to fight. Most monks got killed, and Radovid sold the property of the Order and dissolved it. Ex-monks joined the witch hunters or followed Ulrich. He then founded the “Fallen Knights”, a criminal organization that specialized in producing Fisstech (drugs), and hating Radovid.
Jaques de Aldersberg
Someone might say that Gwent firesworns are three completely different religions, and you know what? He would be right in some way.
Worship of the Prophet Lebioda
Lebioda was a prophet (wow, such unexpected news). All of his wisdom, visions, and parables are written all together in “The Good Book of Prophet Lebioda’s Wisdom” (aka Eycyk’s book from Thronebreaker). His worship is professed in the whole of the Northern Realms, and in Toussaint, where it is probably a national religion.
During his life, he was teaching the people and doing miracles. He died in Kaedwen near Ban Ard, trying to stop a local dragon from harassing villagers. And the dragon… just simply ate him. Later his worshipers dug up his remains from the dragon’s remains. He ended up in a sarcophagus in Novigrad’s Great Temple. It might suggest that he was one of the firesworns, and his religion has good relations with Eternal Fire. Also, some Gwent voice lines suggest that too, but in books, his religion has almost nothing in common with the Eternal Fire.
His worshippers believe that he will come to life again, and live “as the good book says”. They may also kiss his remains on certain days (imagine kissing the remains of a dead guy that was in shit, yuck). It is also a very non-human-friendly religion.
His biggest statue in Toussaint
Quite an unknown religion, even among lore keepers. It has its origin somewhere in Toussaint, but you can find them in Novigrad too. We don’t know much about what they believe in, apart from that they whip themselves to atone for all humankind’s wrongs and to appease the gods and gain their favor. Gwent suggests to us that they are one thing, but in The Witcher 3, they are more like an independent religion.
Flagellants in Novigrad
A tag of the Flagellants
After what I wrote about the Eternal Fire, they seem to be so evil, but what if it was like that? Without them, Novigrad would probably stay as a little city, and they also had a huge impact on the economy, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Also sometimes they were actually helping poor people. But overall yeah, they still look like the bad guys.
Well, that seems to be everything. Hope you learned something new, and that you haven’t fallen asleep reading that. Hael Ker’z… I mean, see ya!