Why do characters refer to it as a Kingdom instead of an Empire? It really bugs me, was Nilfgaard a Kingdom before? I know the show is set in a time before the games and the events depict those of the books.
As far as I know, Nilfgaard has always been referred to as an empire in Sapkowski's writings. Emhyr, for instance, is never called king, only emperor.
One thing that did kinda bother me is how the Northern lords apparently view Nilfgaard with disdain - as being 'dirty' and 'backwards'. It's been a while since I read the books, but that does clash with Nilfgaard's reputation, the way I remember it.
I saw it noted somewhere that it was still only considered a kingdom in Netflix's lore until Emhyr's time.
Well dont matter much since their armor design seems something that an edgy 3 year old would make. I get that the people at netflix had their "vision" but that's not a good vision.
Short answer: The show is taking a little artistic license with events.
I haven't read the books, but I think Emperor Fergus was ruler of Nilfgaard during Pavetta's banquet in the source material, until he was ousted by the "Usurper". In the show, the same thing happens, but with a little more detail to why - as they reference how Fergus was considered a pervert who mismanaged his kingdom and ignored his people in favor of sleeping around, leading to popular opinion turning against him and fueling revolts. The Temerian miners reference this when considering rebelling against King Foltest, which also places the episode on the overall timeline of events.
Pretty sure the show is just using it to highlight the rise of Nilfgaard and fall of Cintra, and show Northern opinion of the Nilfgaardians. Early on, Northerners considered Southern Nilfgaardians as backwards and weak by reputation, but after Emhyr retakes the throne and reforms them into the Nilfgaardian Empire, they surprise the North by steamrolling Cintra - who still assumed they were backwards and weak.
It became the Empire (to the Northern kingdoms) during the Northern Wars, when they started sweeping smaller kingdoms of North and adding that territory to it's realm. It all started with the Northern War I which included the annexation of Cintra. That's why they termed it as a kingdom in the show.
^ Except it was already an empire way before the Northern Wars, with the first documented emperor around the 1150s (Nilfgaard went from being just a city on the Alba to taking over many of the southern countries).
What do you think?