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Why should something as trivial as birth decide who rules over us?
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- Usurper, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

The "Usurper", real name unknown, was an aristocrat who, a few years before 1237, overthrew the Nilfgaardian Empire's Imperator, Fergus var Emreis, then seized the title for himself. He ruled until he was overthrown and summarily executed by Emhyr var Emreis' supporters in 1257.

After assuming the throne he granted nationwide amnesty, excluding the political prisoners. He also continued the conquests of neighboring lands in the North.


Youth and military career[]

The following is considered game canon only and may contradict Andrzej Sapkowski's works.

The Usurper serving in the Imperial Army as General next to Emperor Fergus var Emreis

The man who would later become known as the "Usurper" used to be an ordinary officer within the Nilfgaardian military, yet one day he was approached by a certain Gaunter O'Dimm, apparently another soldier serving in the same regiment of the Usurper, who managed to open his mind and convinced him of his true capabilities, persuading him to start his rise to power.

Fomented by O'Dimm's words, and most likely helped by his powers, the Usurper started rising up the ranks of the Imperial Army until he finally became General, thus getting closer and closer with the Nilfgaardian aristocracy and even with Emperor Fergus himself, towards which the Usurper bore a deep hatred, considering him a weak person who didn't deserve to sit on the throne.

While preparing his plan for a coup, the Usurper continued to serve in the army, being able to transform the foolish orders of Fergus into brilliantly executed maneuvers; it was indeed thanks to the Usurper that the Empire during Fergus' reign incorporated the reign of Etolia, Vicovaro and Gemmera.[2][1]

End of game canon content.


In the 1230s, an opposition rose to prominence with the sole purpose of dethroning the House of Emreis with the Usurper leading it. When he gathered enough strength, he led a successful revolt against the Imperator and usurped the throne of Nilfgaard for himself.

Gwent cardart nilfgaard usurper emperor.png

After the coup, he tortured Fergus in an attempt to force him to acknowledge the usurper's rights to the throne. Fergus resisted and was ultimately killed. Fergus' son Emhyr, who was thirteen at the time, was cursed by the mage Braathens into a humanoid hedgehog form, since Emhyr actually means hedgehog in the Nilfgaardian language, and banished from the capital of the Empire. Usurper presumed that he would be killed by hunters but Emhyr managed to hide with the help of Ardal aep Dahy and then fled beyond the borders.[3]


Shortly after he stabilized the situation at court and therefore the Empire, he proclaimed overall amnesty concerning everyone sentenced by his predecessor, excluding only those "guilty of high treason" like Vysogota of Corvo.[4]

In 1239, the Imperial troops annexed Ebbing.[5] He continued this conquest by military onslaughts and political maneuvers, taking control of Metinna and Nazair. In the 1250s, Maecht was also conquered.[6]

At some point during his reign, he diminished the cult of the Great Sun's rights.[7]

The following is considered game canon only and may contradict Andrzej Sapkowski's works.

At some point in time the Usurper demanded the submission of the School of the Viper, attempting to absorb them into the rest of the Empire. When the School refused him, the Usurper had the Nilfgaardian Army destroy their keep of Gorthur Gvaed, scattering the surviving witchers across the Empire, with most cities and towns in Nilfgaard outright barring them from entering or practicing their trade.

End of game canon content.

Downfall and death[]

In 1257, an uprising led by Ardal aep Dahy, Vilgefortz, and Emhyr's other supporters broke out against the Usurper. They managed to rally several soldiers and cadets and, shortly after Emhyr himself reappeared, stormed the imperial palace, overthrowing and executing the Usurper in the process.[3]

Following all the power struggles around the throne, Emhyr had all of his dead political enemies disinterred and used their gravestones to pave his ballroom, earning him the nickname "the White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies" or in Nilfgaardian language, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd.[8]

After the death of the Usurper and all his adjutants, the scribes, by order of the new emperor Emhyr var Emreis, started to wipe out the Usurper's name from all the imperial archives, all the books, all the libraries; his name would no longer be mentioned or remembered by anyone. This task turned out to be very difficult, since even after the death of Emhyr, his successor Morvran Voorhis, was still continuing this work.[1]


  • His name is never mentioned in the novels or games. Curiously, in Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni he is referred to as "Torres" - it is not known whether it's the authors' mistake or had he indeed carried a name of one of the former Nilfgaardian emperors.
    • After the coup, the Usurper decided to hide his peasant origins and instead ordered historians to unearth documents validating him as an illegitimate son of Emperor Torres.[1]