Yes and no. Small-scale destruction, looting and pillaging, yes, that happened all the time. Systematic destruction and murder of entire cities and countrysides, no. This did not happen, not without very specific circumstances. Even during the Hundred Years war you wouldn’t see that kind of thing (widespread destruction there was, yes, but over a long period of time, throughthe addition of multiple battles and small-scale events/). The only remotely similar example I can think of in French history for instance is what happened during the albigensian crusades - and here there were a religious motive and a clear desire of exterminating the local nobility. I can hardly recall any medieval case of an entire country being systematically destroyed like Aedirn in the game, _with clear orders telling the soldiers to kill, burn and rape._Burning down a sieged city, especially if it resisted, yes, totally a thing. Pulling off a Russia 1941 on a medieval kindgom, in a medieval war, no.
You want to see widespread massacres and destruction carried in an almost systematic way ? That’s a 16th-18th century thing, after the military revolution and the advent of huge professional armies. That’s the Thirty Years War, with much bigger armies and totally different motivations. Not 1250-ish.
Yes on the anachronistic part. This also works for Temeria, btw, which has “special forces” (the Blue Stripes) that are totally anachronistic as well - the very concept is a 20th century thing.
Not necessarily so. “Half starved, disease ridden” is a northern thing, and we barely know anything about what happens in Nilfgaard. The only part of Nilfgaard we clearly see in the games (and the books I’ve read so far) is Toussaint, which seems to enjoy a much more pleasant climate. It is entirely possible that Nilfgaard is a hundred times more prosperous than the northern kingdoms. They seem to live in better conditions (especially regarding monsters : they fare quite well without witchers after all) and they also seem to enjoy a relative political stability (the imperial court is backstabby as fuck, but AFAIK the empire itself is pretty stable). They also seem to be slightly more advanced in both technology (they master what amounts to greek fire if the gwent cards are any indication) and magic (they use mages more liberally than northern folk, seem to fear them much less and the imperial power keeps them on a very tight leash, which makes them readily available for stuff like long-range coms). If we assume they’re not locked in a state of perpetual war with Zerrikania or whataver the hell lies south and east of them, it’s not that outlandish to imagine that they might be capable of maintaining a massive a dn very diverse army the way the romans did. They have the food, geographical space, money and government structures for that. All of that is speculation on my part, but honestly, Nilfgaard having a massive standing army is one of the least problematic thing in The Witcher’s worldbuilding.
I mean, if anything, given that they want to properly colonize the North, they seem to have an overpopulation issue rather than the contray.
What’s unrealistic, if anything, is how the hell do they keep losing against the north that can barely unite its crumbling kingdoms.
(Also - I think the population numbers in The Witcher are massively underestimated. There is no way Novigrad is only 30,000 inhabitants, because that would mean a city like Vizima has like 5,000, and it definitely looks like it has much more. The geography is also kind of confused : Nilfgaard is very much an off-map thing, and I have no idea how big it is.)
Oh, and re : Temeria I mean they’re a small country stuck between an expansionist kingdom using red as their color of choice, and a genocidal one using black and skulls as their symbols, so it’s pretty obvious Temeria = Poland in the 30s.