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 from southern regions of the Empire and Ofiri, but rarely used by populations of the North themselves.
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.
At the time when Encyclopaedia Maxima Mundi is written, several centuries after the plot of the Northern Wars, the Common Speech is considered endangered or even dead language, though some realms like Cidaris are still referred to as the "Northern Kingdoms".
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 occur most often. People of elven heritage sometimes have more unique hair or eye color, e.g. ashen or purple. Nordling skin color is described either as are pale or swarthy, depending on the location. Seaside cities seem to have even more diverse population, likely due to contacts with the Empire and oversea countries.
Structure of the society
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. Industry is less important, and is often left to mages, like those of Rissberg, or assimilated nonhumans, most often gnomes and 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.
Forms of discrimination
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, while the commoners or people of even small percentage of nonhuman genes are dissallowed.
Racial tensions sometimes grow so high they culminate during the pogroms. Among the human groups themselves the racism seems to be rare, with an exception in case of the Rivians living outside of their land who are mockingly referred to as "Rivs" and widely perceived as robbers and thugs. Geralt was mistakenly recognized as a Rivian and attacked by Vizimans in The Fox once.
Mages and clergy
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 metropolies. 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 metropolies. Druids, somehow in between priests and mages, are important as well, though regarded as more mysterious and quite anachronistic. They often take care of ecological issues such as overfishing or forest clearing.
Women's rights and sexual minorities
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. The exceptions however exist, and at least a number of people perceive non-heterosexual couples as "perverted".
Language and writing systems
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 recognized because of their accent.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.