|Something always hung in the air ... Everybody was waiting for something. And I ... I showed them. I showed them all what I was capable of, in a way that made the very walls shake and the local grizzly bears wake in their winter lairs. And any silly thoughts disappeared from their heads in a trice. Suddenly everyone knew who ruled.|
|- Meve, pg. 219, Blood of Elves (U.S. edition)|
Meve, lauded as the White Queen and sardonically dubbed the "Merry Widow", became the Queen of Lyria and Rivia after the death of her husband. She was related to King Foltest of Temeria and Queen Calanthe of Cintra (with whom she shared a close friendship since their youth). Married at a young age to King Reginald, Meve was the mother of two sons, Villem and Anséis, neither of whom she deemed a suitable candidate as her successor.
She was a staunch ally of King Demavend III of Aedirn. When the Great War broke out, her domain was absorbed by the Nilfgaardian Empire. Donning plate, she headed a guerrilla campaign and, during battle, obtained a mutilating face scar - and the reputation of being an unflinching heroine. Afterward, she participated in the negotiations at Cintra and subsequent celebrations in Novigrad.
One of many daughters Queen Kalis gave the king, Meve was born to the Lyrian branch of an old House of Raven. She grew up at a palace of Lyria. After her mother had been removed, the new queen gave birth to at least two sons. Interested in the military rather than needlework or dance, Meve had been initially refused fencing lessons by her parents and thus had to sneak into the kitchen and practice alone or with her brothers. Though tutored by a host of governesses, the princess would still climb trees and read memoirs of generals instead of romance.
Meve developed personal distaste for the House Obert, long in conflict with the Ravens, and its leading member Greta. After meeting Calanthe, her distant cousin from Cintra, they became close. Among other things, Meve would notice hot-blooded Cali—as she called the Cintran princess—shuffling feet in excitement whenever a handsome man passed beside them. Their friendship and affection resembled true sisterhood more than anything. In time, malicious rumors of incest arose forcing Calanthe to look for a spouse in remote Ebbing.
Marriage to Reginald
At the age of 16, a decision was made to marry her off. A host of nobles dismissed her when seeing post-practice bruises until King Reginald of Rivia fell in love with the princess. At first, Meve seldom behaved like a loving wife. Trying to appease her, Reginald bought Ofiri tapestries, sapphire-studded necklaces, a Koviri lute—all fiercely discarded. At last, a full-body gilded plate armor proved the right gift. Once, in the late 1240s, Meve went hunting to Waldenrad for the first time and had a soft spot for it ever since.
Taking the reins
|Whenever Meve departed the city, she was met with cheering crowds and rose petals at her feet...|
|- Borch on Meve's popularity in Lyrian capital, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales|
In 1259, Reginald, with his last breath, advised Meve to trust none but Reynard Odo and expired. As neither son was ready, he left Meve as the interim regent in both Rivia and Lyria. Hoping to manipulate her, the Lyrian Council of Peers accepted. Opportunist foes who perceived Meve as inexperienced struck forthwith. The queen replaced silk with the gilded suite from Reginald and mounted her steed to confront them.
The commanders of the Lyrian-Rivian Army were initially skeptical of her to the point of ignoring orders. After beheading a few, the rest submitted. Steadily the queen won all battles. Lacking any regular training and having trouble to recognize siege weapons, Meve used her memory of various generals' tracts and intellect to beat capable warriors. The foes surrendered before winter.
Easing in tense relations between Vizimir II and her cousin Foltest at the beginning of the 1260s prompted a wedding of Frisanna and Fulko, where Meve sent an ambassador. Around this time, at least before June 1267, Meve entered into a military alliance with Temeria.
Shortly thereafter, Black Forces wrought ruin on Cintra. Calanthe committed suicide to avoid being captured. At a conference in Maribor, Meve agreed to assist the reprisal of the Four Kingdoms, sending a force with Captain Odo. Nilfgaardian Empire, soundly defeated at the Battle of Sodden Hill, called for a truce which she sealed.
The Great War
Meeting at Hagge
|Nilfgaard is observing us. Something is hanging in the air, silly thought are springing up in many heads. So let us show what we are capable of. Let us show them who is really king here. Let us shake the walls of this great castle plunged into a winter torpor!|
|- Meve, pg. 219, Blood of Elves (U.S. edition)|
In 1267, Meve had been summoned to Hagge by Demavend III. Going there, Meve was well aware of Foltest's long-standing romance with Maria Louisa La Valette, courtesy of her spies. At the start, Meve remained a silent listener to Demavend, Foltest, Vizimir II, and Henselt of Kaedwen, occasionally twisting her lips into an ambiguous grimace. Whilst Vizimir talked of the Nilfgaardian threat, Meve lifted her head. She thought she heard crows croak outside but realized it was just wind.
As they talked about Nilfgaard, Meve stressed they, unlike the North, could afford to wait before striking. Vizimir praised Meve for a precise remark, adding that the Emperor disturbed a stone resulting in an avalanche—issues with nonhumans, the influx of cheap imperial goods, the Scoia'tael, etc. Finding it hard to reach a solution, the kings paused to look at Meve for guidance. She advised they should opt for decisive action, a thought which reinvigorated attendees who decided to use Cintra as a uniting symbol.
Foltest mused its lost heir, Calanthe's granddaughter Cirilla, should be deemed dead. Meve asked him whether he intended to secretly find her and use Vissegerd's volunteers to expand his own kingdom. When her cousin refused, offended that he wouldn't think of marrying a child, Meve snarkily nodded he wouldn't for he loved Baroness La Valette. They subsequently decided to restore Cintra's sovereignty but couldn't agree on the Princess' husband and king. Meve rejected the idea of her sons, proposing one of her knights instead. To get ahead of Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, the kings silently agreed, to Meve's dismay, that the child had to die.
Escape to Aedirn
Still, before reaching her palace, the Queen ordered her land to secretly prepare to attack Nilfgaard. Her troops were to be redistributed as close to the borders as possible. There, they would await the Aedirnian Army and overcome Imperial border garrisons.
At one point in late June, a troop of Lyrian cavalry clashed with a mounted Nilfgaardian unit. After hearing about this, Meve loudly accused the Empire of provocation and called for help from Demavend. What she didn't know, however, was that the Emperor was one step ahead.
On a night from 1 to 2 July, Nilfgaardian force disguised as Lyrians and Aedirnians seized Glevitzingen on the Imperial border. Moments after, a group of Demavend's heralds escorted by Lyrian soldiers – all of whom were quite possibly still disguised Black Ones – informed the locals that Aedirn was taking control. Claiming this a casus belli, the Imperials crossed the Yaruga immediately, conquering the Lyrian border castles Scala and Spalla in mere 3 days. Rivia was prepared for months of siege but capitulated under the promise of no harm. Henselt, who was to aid Meve and Demavend owing to the alliance they signed at Hagge, opted to strike a pact with the Emperor instead, taking control of the coveted Lormark.
Meanwhile, in Lyria, Meve herself ended up a victim of a coup organized by Count Caldwell and backed by Duke Ardal aep Dahy, the Nilfgaardian commander tasked with the eastern front. Arrested and confined in a tower while they installed Villem as a puppet king, Meve escaped only barely before Caldwell's henchmen came to kill her. She was helped by few loyalists led by Count Odo and Gascon the outlaw.
Hoping to regroup together with Demavend, Meve got on a way to Aldersberg. Her loyal soldiers fought Nilfgaardians ferociously alongside the Aedirnians in the first battle of Aldersberg, which took place in mid-July. However, numbering only around 5 or 6 thousand warriors, they were soundly crushed by the numerically superior enemy under Menno Coehoorn. Following the battle of Aldersberg, a rumor spread far and wide making many people believe Meve disappeared and perished in the wake of the Empire's onslaught. The fact was that she reassembled with the survivors from her army and they recruited anyone available, including mercenaries and ordinary marauders.
With the battle lost, Meve and Demavend escaped the burning Aldersberg through a secret passage. His army all but annihilated, Demavend confided the queen of his decision to retreat and regroup in exile. When Meve told him she wouldn't follow and instead remain to liberate her realm, he proceeded to give her several soldiers as well as the Leaden Ring—a token of friendship from dwarves of Mahakam. Asking how it may serve her, Meve learned the ring could make dwarven Elder-in-Chief, Brouver Hoog, liable to hear her out and thus increase her chance to get a volunteer corp full of dwarves. Demavend also bid Rayla to guide Meve to the dwarves. With this, the march towards Mahakam began. It hence took var Emreis mere twenty-six days to crush the two.
Allies up the Mountains
Galloping through the fields of Aedirn and then along perilously steep trails, Meve entered a region known as the Mahakam Pass, which led to the capital of Mount Carbon. There, amidst the snow, Gabor Zigrin awaited the Lyrian retinue. Before the dwarf could properly greet them, though, a large shadow fell on them all as a red dragon named Keltullis soared over them. As the Queen set foot in Mahakam, she only knew dragons from colorful engravings and ballads she heard at her court. Coincidentally, one such story Meve heard was about Yarpen Zigrin and the dragon Ocvist. Nevertheless, Gabor Zigrin quickly assured everybody that Keltullis wouldn't pose danger.
After Rayla introduced Zigrin as their local guide, Meve went straight to the Elder-in-Chief. As it was, the Elder Hoog was just in the process of Spring Cleaning – an annual event of monster removal caused by ice trolls, shaelmaars, and others cropping up when the snow melts for a bit. After young Zigrin explained to her what she was witness to, Meve summoned her banners and rushed to help with the cleaning. Right thereafter, Meve and Odo were brought to the Elder-in-Chief, who inquired Zigrin who the guests were. When the Queen began to speak, Hoog cut her off, saying that he knew full well she either came for coin or fighting bodies. He then proceeded to note how, over the centuries, he had come to realize meddling in human affairs only brings trouble. Refusing the Queen's request he summoned his warriors, announced the end of Spring Cleaning, and went back to Mount Carbon.
Seeing Meve disheartened, Zigrin advised the Lyrians to go around some of the principal clans of Mahakam seated in the Pass, help them get rid of monsters, win over their hearts, and that then the Elder Hoog would be compelled to reassess her request. And so they went, battling the rage wrought by Keltullis on Clan Ferenc after its dwarves broke her eggs, slaughtering through the monsters of Davor's Abyss and Boro's Rump and resolving the enigma of the missing excursions into the Black Brook Vale among other feats. The clans rejoiced, and so when Meve sorted out Davor's Abyss and saw the Elder-in-Chief's runner, she expected praise from him and a pledge of aid. Hoog, however, was irate. At Langbridge, he explained to Meve that he didn't eradicate the beasts earlier because he was investigating the fall of Clan Fuchs. The Queen was then invited to Mount Carbon, where the Elder planned to question her at length.
Walking across the Langbridge, they were attacked by Scoia'tael. When the dusts settled and everybody was safely at Mount Carbon, Meve and Hoog talked. The Elder admitted he originally intended to rebuke her again, overriding the clans, but after seeing how the Empire was using Scoia'tael, he decided to "use" Meve. A feast ensued, but not all of it was delight for the Queen. Escorted by the Imperials, King Villem, her son and rival, summarized the situation in the North to her and begged her to surrender. She refused resolutely and, following a short argument, left. With the feast concluded, the Lyrians met with the Mahakaman "volunteers". And hence a regiment of sturdy dwarven spearbearers, dressed in white doublets displaying Rivian diamonds, joined the war.
Campaign in Angren
Reinforced, Meve directed her retinue to Angren. Gradually growing in strength, the White Queen's corps developed such a bravado that they crossed to the other bank of the Yaruga and harassed the imperials in every possible manner. Located just south of Lyria and Rivia, Angren served as an important source of food for the Empire. It was also full of bogs and woods, ideal for guerrilla warfare.
The region held an allure for reasons of revenge, too. After all, it was there Count Caldwell had been granted the title of Palatine. When she finally found out in which part of swamps he was, Meve defeated and killed Caldwell in the Battle of Tuzla Castle. On her way towards Red Port, Meve was forced to make a detour through Ysgith, a particularly monster-filled part of Angren. There, thanks to the help of witcher Ivo of Belhaven, the queen killed Gernichora, a terrible relict which nested in the swamps.
When Meve reached the Red Port, an unpleasant surprise awaited her. The Imperials mustered a force under Commander Morteisen at the single bridge leading out of Angren to put an end to her attacks. With no other way through, Meve led the charge to face Morteisen's soldiers. There, in the heat of the Battle for the Bridge on the Yaruga, the Queen received an unexpected aid in the form of another witcher, Geralt, and his companions, who also needed to cross the river. Fighting her enemies head-on, Meve received a blow from a war hammer which left a mutilating scar on her cheek and broke several of her teeth. Ultimately, though, her warriors won the day.
In the aftermath, Meve entered the field hospital to reward the witcher who happened to help her. Supported by Count Odo, she proceeded to knight him, elevating his status and officially granting him the title "Geralt of Rivia"—finding it amusing to bestow such a moniker on him. Upon receiving the honor, Geralt accompanied Meve as one of Rivian knights. His companions lavished in royal favor as well. On their way towards Caed Dhu forest, the army was alerted about a Nilfgaardian punitive expedition coming their way from Klamat in great numbers.
To avoid it, Meve decided to head north instead. Geralt, who needed to go see the druids of Caed Dhu, asked the Queen to exempt him from the army with royal blessing for his private quest. In a cool yet resolute tone, Meve refused, reminding the knight of his duties to the crown. He and his company therefore left quietly, stealing some provisions and horses in the process, which made the Queen furious.
|Now's not the time to mourn, now's the time for war. For slaughter. Revenge. With victory today we'll regain our home, return to our kin and set our blades aside at last. Yet until victory is ours, they must drink, drink greedily of Nilfgaardian blood!|
|- Meve, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales|
Now with a mighty host in tow, she returned to Rivia as a legendary liberator and both the Nilfgaardian Military Intelligence and Vilgefortz' cronies closely monitored her activity. It was, in fact, her guerilla campaign in Angren crowned by the victory that helped overturn the situation in the war as a whole. With bands of resistance rising throughout conquered realms of the North such as Verden, Nilfgaard had to withdraw the bulk of its forces from Lyria and Rivia to face them. Presented with an opportunity to retake her lost lands, Meve didn't hesitate.
Villem, aware fact that he couldn't defeat her, offered her an alliance. At the ruins of the Devil's Tower, Meve heard out her son's proposition, who maintained he would join her if he remained the heir to the throne, his advisors wouldn't be punished, and his already-authorized reforms remained in place.
If Meve doesn't accept: Those conditions, however, sounded unacceptable to Meve's ears, and Villem was forced to return to his castle empty-handed.
If Meve arrests Villem: Angered by his audacity, Meve ordered her troops to arrest Villem on account of treason, then toss him in the dungeons and keep him there until his death.
If Meve accepts Villem's condition: Although her own son stabbed her in the back and sold her own country to Nilfgaard, Meve finally forgave Villem and accepted his conditions. She praised his impertinence, calling it a trait worthy of any future king akin to self-confidence. Her own conditions were that Villem would abdicate and fight at the fore every time, which Villem promptly agreed to.
Approaching the city of Rivia, Meve liberated Broadhead, Kaveldun and other towns from Imperial garrisons. At last, she got to the Rivian capital with its massive donjon. After long, strenuous battle for Rivia Castle, her troops ousted Ardal aep Dahy, who escaped to the ruins of Aldersberg with what remained of the East Army Group. Upon repelling a relieve force sent to aid aep Dahy, the Queen began preparations to march for Aldersberg and deal with him once and for all.
Reaching Demavend and Henselt, who had come to terms at about this point, she learned of a Nilfgaardian messanger, Caldwyn, and intercepted him. Discovering that he carried an order from the Emperor which would force aep Dahy to poison himself, the Queen laughed and allowed him to deliver his message. A while later, the three alied rulers, strengthened by Redanian reinforcements, routed the Nilfgaardians in a decisive battle, despite the Empire still having a significant numerical advantage.
In late March 1268, she, along with a number of other important Northern monarchs, reached Cintra in order to meet with Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen, an ambassador heading the Emperor's delegation, in order to set up a peace treaty. After her arrival, Meve and her entourage were assigned a part of the city to stay in during the discussions.
Before entering the throne room for negotiations, the monarchs walked through a small gallery full of heraldic emblems and coats of arms of Cintran nobility, both the ancient and more recent. There, Meve pondered about the fate of her dear cousin Calanthe, her daughter Pavetta and granddaughter Cirilla. A moment after, Hierarch Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart – accepted as the talks' chairman – beckoned her to take a seat at the round table. When the talks got around to Lormark, Henselt frantically refused to hand it back to Demavend. After Chancellor Sigismund Dijkstra asked him to calm down, Henselt scolded him for such a remark, exclaiming that he was a "king, for fuck's sake", causing Meve to snort how apparent that was. The argument then continued, but Meve entered it only once to praise Demavend's choice to recognize Dol Blathanna's autonomy. One ironed-out clause pertaining to Meve's monarchy, Lyria in particular, stipulated that the thousands of resettled Nilfgaardians would be repatriated, taking home only what could be carried over the shoulder.
After several topics were concluded, Meve brought up the status of Cintra. The Northern rulers expected to have a few different options, such as making the Cintran capital a free city and ruling the rest as a jointly-governed principality. Nilfgaardian delegation, however, quickly brushed this aside, announcing the coming wedding of the Emperor with Princess Cirilla. On 2 April, the final draft of the Peace of Cintra was signed, ending the war. To honor the imperial wedding, bells rang throughout Cintra and a new portrait showing the Queen-Empress was hung in the palace. Approaching it, Meve thought the girl looked utterly unlike Calanthe, Pavetta or Roegner of Ebbing. She remembered the rumors about a decoy, but decided to keep it to herself.
Not long afterwards, great celebrations were held in Novigrad. Meve along with other monarchs, including late Vizimir's wife Hedwig of Malleore and young son Radovid V, was seated at a review stand to witness the fireworks and the parade of victorious forces. When the Mahakam Volunteer Army marched below them, many of it's members showed what they thought about budget cuts via crude gestures, to which Meve commented the kings' weren't supposed to apply them. She then went on to note they shouldn't have insulted such an ambitious nation as the dwarves.
Restoring power, again
Albeit Dandelion posited the queen wouldn't hold a grudge for long after their desertion and even allow Geralt to stay in Rivia if she knew he was there, Meve cursed the white-haired witcher's name whenever she heard it.
During the eventful summer 1271, when, following Demavend's murder, Henselt invaded Aedirn, Meve didn't come to its aid. Whilst Yarpen Zigrin mused about a regiment of heavy arbalists from Lyria, the defenders in Vergen concluded Meve wouldn't risk extra casualties after having her army bled dry in the prior war with Nilfgaard.
Alas the peace didn't last. In August, Nilfgaardians took the border patrols by surprise and captured most of her territory before December. Unbeknownst to her, the one-time operatives of Temerian Intelligence, Bernard Ducat and Vernon Roche, parleyed with Field Marshal Havart var Moehoen behind everyone else's back, offering to stop fighting Nilfgaard, assassinate Radovid, and accept its annexation of Aedirn and Lyria in exchange for Temeria's autonomy. Concurrently, Dijkstra plotted to take over Redania as chancellor again, refuse the deal with the Emperor and unite the remainder of the North until it won.
At any rate, by 1275, Anséis decided to join the International Knights' Tourney in Toussaint for a the third time in a row. She dissaproved, and forbade him to participate. Nevertheless, the younger son disobeyed Meve, who then noticed his prolonged absence from the palace and sent a message to him. In it, she informed Anséis that she ended his monthly allowance regardless of his placement and wished him fun.
In the end, Queen Meve went down in history, both popular and chronicled, as a stern but just, bold and unyielding monarch, earning her place among the likes of Bienvenu the She-Wolf or Calanthe the Lioness. After all, she wasn't frequently dubbed "a second Calanthe" by contemporaneous scribes for nothing. Moreover, even before she died, the tales of her match with Kelltulis got widespread to the point where Rodolf Kazmer, a wandering merchant, heard several of them during his journeys. That and all other stories from Meve's first guerrilla campaign were relayed by Borch Three Jackdaws to his captors while on their way to Zerrikania.
|I don't see any blue and white pennants on any of the castle towers, and thus Queen Meve is not residing at the castle.|
|- Dandelion's observation, The Lady of the Lake|
Meve's personal badge portrayed a lion rampant, tying back to Coram I, holding a sword of the prominent Delen family from Temeria in one of its paws. She also used elongated royal pennants in colors of her kingdoms, flown in cities and castles where she stayed.
Appearance and personality
|We're admiring your beauty.
That too. Meve, we all know you can find a solution to everything. You have a woman's intuition, you're wise [...]
|- Henselt and Vizimir II, pg. 218, Blood of Elves (U.S. edition)|
By August 1267, when she was nearing 40, Meve's hair turned greyish white, although they appeared blonde from a distance. Combined with the white coat of her horse, they earned her the moniker of "White Queen". Despite such hair shade, her face displayed no signs of aging like wrinkles. Ironically enough, the White Queen was a figure inserted into the Ithlinne's Prophecy by Nilfgaardian propagandists alongside the White Flame shortly before the Great War to make the eventual arrival of Emperor Emhyr and his wife seem legitimate. As Geralt remarked, Meve looked mature but not old. Meve had light green eyes, full lips and was considered overall good-looking. When in a good humor, the Queen sported a charming smile. Her jewelry consisted solely of a necklace with enormous rubies inside. After the crucial battle in Angren, she received a disfiguring scar on her lip and lost several teeth. This made it difficult for Meve to pronounce sonorants. In the end, the wounds healed well enough to not hinder her speech, though remained visible.
From among the Northern rulers, Meve was seen as the wise and cunning one, benefiting from the intuition of a woman. Unlike the other monarchs present at Hagge, she was firmly against infanticide. The Queen was a mostly quiet participant in royal deliberations, but when she did speak she tended to cut to the heart of the matter and all listened to her. Though not overtly religious, Meve would silently pray to Melitele when terrified. During the Second War with the Empire of Nilfgaard, when she refused to give up and formed her guerrilla forces, Meve gained the far-reaching renown as both courageous and steadfast, with the bard Dandelion assigning her the epithet "Sun Slayer".
Whenever available, Meve valued peaceful resolutions and cherished those who did the same. Emotional bursts, so innate to Henselt, by contrast, only amused her. On top of that, Meve often held those of a more "sensitive" constitution in disfavor and, as a result, her relationships with her sons was strained from the very start. This was notably the case with her elder son, Villem. However she did, ultimately, care for both her sons, accepting they were different from her. With her husband dead, Odo grew to be Meve's closest friend, aide and confidante, secretly harboring feelings for his liege.
- "Maeve", an anglicized form of Gaelic Medb, is an old name believed to derive from medu "mead" and mean "intoxicating". In Irish mythology, this was the name of a fair-haired warrior queen of Connacht. Incidentally or not, her name is phonetically similar to Polish word mewa "gull", a bird with pure white feathers intricately connected with the House of Raven.
- In Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, Meve was chosen to be the protagonist because, besides gameplay reasons, she was an influential, respected woman while not being a sorceress.
- During the production of Season 2 of Netflix's The Witcher, Meve had a codename "Queen Mabel". In a script for auditions, her stance on what should be done with Ciri following the fall of Cintra is in stark contrast to her canon opinion. Inside, Meve hires a bounty hunter to prevent Nilfgaard from getting the princess.
- In Cintran Dynasty - Cerbin, it's stated that "all [Cerbin's] descendants were called sons (or daughters) of the Raven". Meve, whose descent goes all the way down from Cerbin's grandson Ceran, therefore qualifies for such a moniker.
- Unidentified in Blood of Elves, given name in CD PROJEKT RED's The Witcher franchise.
- Baptism of Fire
- Blood of Elves
- Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
- Cintran Dynasty - Coram I
- Netflix's The Witcher
- Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
- Genealogy of Ciri - Calanthe
- Time of Contempt
- "Meet the characters of Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales!" – 2018 Developer blog
- Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni
- The Tower of the Swallow
- The Lady of the Lake
- The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
- The Witcher Role-Playing Game
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Blood and Wine expansion
- A Witcher's Journal
- The Witcher
- Behind the Names: Maeve
- The Last Wish
- Why CD PROJEKT RED Chose Queen Meve as the Protagonist for Thronebreaker
- Audition tape for Queen Meve offers a glimpse at politics in The Witcher Season 2
- See the GWENT standalone game version card: Queen Meve