Esterad Thyssen (born 1211) was the king of Kovir and Poviss during the second war with Nilfgaard and was the son of Baldwin and Blanka. He was tall, strong, and good-looking. Later in life, he was said to look a mere 45 when he was in fact 56 years old.
Esterad (and his father before him), lived through a very difficult period for Kovir and the House of Thyssen in particular. The first of several bloody power struggles occurred with the Secession of Poviss, when Rhyd declared himself king of Poviss and thus autonomous. He gained independence as did the East March (which later split into several duchies and kingdoms, only to finally unite as the Hengfors League). But the worst was yet to come - there was a revolt and Baldwin lost control of his crown to Idi, and for the first time in the history of the house, the Thyssens were forced to flee. During his escape, King Baldwin suddenly died, probably due to a brain aneurysm. Because of this, Esterad spent most of his youth in exile in Talgar.
But he did not bide his time unproductively. Esterad considered various plans, gathered his strength, and gained adherents, forging secret pacts and alliances. Finally, he struck back, and decisively. One night, known ever since as the Night of Knives and Torches, Idi, Rhyd, and their entire families were killed and the House of Thyssen was restored.
He met his future wife and queen, Zuleyka, while in exile and were soon married in 1238 and together they had three children: Gaudemunda, Heloiza, and Tankred. It was also stated that, unlike other kings, Esterad truly loved his wife and never cheated on her. The couple also shared one bed chamber, rather than keep separate chambers like other royal couples.
Second Northern War
In October 1267, he was approached by Sigismund Dijkstra who was looking for a loan of a million bizants to raise an army to protect Redania from future Nilfgaard attacks come spring. After deducing such himself, Esterad then informed the spymaster he couldn't help him as Kovir was officially neutral and had a treaty from his grandfather's time that forbade the kingdom from aiding Nilfgaard's enemies and, while Nilfgaard may turn around and attack the ones it once entered a treaty with, Kovir would not.
That night though, he talked with his wife while in bed as she perused the Good Book, revealing he was having odd dreams where his mother was stating she'd found a wife for Tankred, their only son and thus heir, and then showed an image of Ciri. Not realizing his wife was aware of these, as part of an agreement between her and the mage Sheala to get their son in line, Zuleyka eased his mind about them. They then discussed the matter of wanting to help Redania but unable to and, once more, Zuleyka pulled from her book, citing several passages that gave the king an idea.
The king had shares in maritime trade companies in Novigrad that he then gave to the Hierarch of Novigrad to fund Redania, thereby getting around the treaty, though Redania thought this money had come from Kovir's treasury. Esterad also granted royal pardons to the prisoners in his kingdom, many of whom had been imprisoned during King Rhyd and Idi's time. These prisoners went on to help the North by forming companies to help fight against Nilfgaard.
In his last conversation with Dijkstra, he gave the spymaster a toy soldier, telling him to hold onto it and hide it well as one of Esterad's emissaries would show him an identical one as proof of who he was. He then revealed he had proof that Yennefer was no traitor but Dijkstra refused to see the evidence, as right now her being a traitor was convenient at the moment. Before they parted, Esterad gave the spymaster one last bit of advice: to stop the bloodbath he was creating back home in Redania, as the only thing to come of it would be one day his own death by assassins.
In April 1268, he showed up in Cintra after the peace talks were finished to see them hang up Ciri's portrait in the castle to signify she'd officially become queen of the country on top of becoming Emperor Emhyr's wife. While he kept quiet, he quickly realized the portrait wasn't the correct Ciri and decided to discuss this with his wife later to see what they could do with this knowledge.
Sometime later, Esterad was ambushed by three assassins just outside his palace. While he could have fought them off alone until guards arrived, Zuleyka was also there and thus, only wishing to protect his wife, Esterad did everything to protect her. When help finally arrived, they found Zuleyka without even a graze on her but Esterad had been fatally wounded and died a short time later.
- In The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Letho of Gulet revealed that Esterad was supposed to be the first target of the Kingslayers, but thanks to the unintentional intervention of Sheala de Tancarville this never happened and their first target ended up being King Demavend III, the ruler of Aedirn.
- His name is mistakenly mentioned as "Esmerad Tyssen" in the second game.
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, he's featured on a gwent card, Esterad Thyssen.