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Characters / Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Edelgard

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Edelgard von Hresvelg

Nationality: Adrestian Empire

House: Black Eagles

Class: Noble → Lord → Fortress Knight/Warrior → Flame Emperor → Armored Lord → Emperor → Hegemon Husk

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Age: 17 (6/22)

Crest: Seiros (Minor), Goddess/Flames (Major)

Height: 158 cm

Voiced by: Ai Kakuma (Japanese), Tara Platt (English) note 

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/feth_edelgard.png
Post-Timeskip 
Click here to see Edelgard in Fire Emblem Heroes 
Click here to see Post-Timeskip Edelgard in Fire Emblem Heroes 
MASSIVE spoilers for Azure Moon 

"People believe Crests are blessings from the Goddess, that they are necessary to maintain order in Fódlan. But the people are wrong. Crests are to blame for this brutal, irrational world we live in."

Edelgard von Hresvelg is the imperial princess, heir to the throne of the Adrestian Empire, and house leader of the Black Eagles. She has a dignified, high-minded, solemn air about her, and she coolly evaluates her surroundings and those around her before she acts. Her favored weapon is the axe.

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Her personal ability, Imperial Lineage, grants her twenty percent more Experience. Post-timeskip it is upgraded to Imperial Lineage+, raising her Resistance if she ends the turn by Waiting. She bears the Minor Crest of Seiros, which has a chance to increase her Might when using Combat Arts.


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    # — D 
  • Actually, I Am Him: In Chapter 11 of Black Eagles, Bernadetta asks if she knew that the Flame Emperor was working with Adrestia. Edelgard responds that of course she knew, because she is the Flame Emperor.
  • Affectionate Nickname: "El." She's referred to this by her father and potentially by Byleth if she S-supports with them. She was also called this by Dimitri when they were young, and ends up calling her by it again just moments before she kills him on the Crimson Flower route and conversely before he kills her on the Azure Moon route. Alternatively, Dorothea affectionately calls Edelgard “Edie.”
  • Age-Gap Romance: Despite their 34 year age difference by the end of the game, Edelgard can be A-supported by and end up in a romantic relationship with Hanneman in their epilogue. It is stated that their relationship was affectionate and fulfilling.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Towards Dimitri after she kills him on the Crimson Flower route, lamenting the fact that her uncle's machinations twisted him into a person obsessed with revenge on her, as he believed that she was complicit in the deaths of his parents and several friends.
    • Edelgard herself is on the receiving end of this on the Verdant Wind/Silver Snow routes, lamenting she wanted to walk together with Byleth on the same path before being executed by them. Even more so once the party reads Hubert's letter, as it becomes clear that TWSITD successfully played her like a fiddle, if only due to meeting her demise before getting the chance to dispose of said group after conquering Fódlan.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Her character is implied to have PTSD and shows signs of it through her social isolation and mistrust of people. She also has a fear of rats due to the experimentation she went through and even says she has nightmares.
  • Ambition Is Evil: On routes where she is not chosen, her relentless ambition pits her against everyone from her classmates to her closest friends, who are all astonished that she'd go to war to topple centuries of establishment. Her willingness to commit questionable acts and take advantage of other evildoers works in the name of that ambition is what gets the other three factions of the game to paint her as evil. Obviously subverted on Crimson Flower where you see her motivations, as she explains her end goals, offers her friends a chance to leave if they disagree, her friends in the Black Eagles temper the more ruthless actions she would otherwise take in the name of her ambitions, and she voluntarily steps down from power once she has achieved her societal reforms.
  • Animal Motifs: Eagles. They're often a sign of royalty and are a symbol of Christ's resurrection. This could refer to Edelgard's status as the Imperial princess (later Emperor) and her desire to bring about a better age for Fódlan.
  • An Axe to Grind: She wields axes as one of her primary weapons, and is shown with them in the trailer. Additionally, her Relic weapon, Aymr, is an axe.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Interestingly averted, despite House Hresvelg's ancestral ties to the Divine Seiros herself. While her Crest of Seiros has both a Sacred Weapon and shield tied to it (the Sword of Seiros and Seiros Shield), they're both in possession of the church. Meanwhile, her Relic axe, Aymr, is an artificial custom piece Relic crafted by "those who slither in the dark", specifically made for her. She steals the Sword of Seiros for personal use on all routes outside of Crimson Flower, but it's very unlikely for her to actually wield it in battle.note  Stranger still, she ditches the sword entirely on routes where you fight her at Enbarr.
  • Anti-Hero: Fluctuates between Unscrupulous Hero, Pragmatic Hero, and full-on Anti-Villain depending on the route you're taking. Regardless, she's always a Well-Intentioned Extremist determined to bring about a better world in Fódlan, no matter what means are used to achieve those ends.
  • Anti-Nepotism: She says that when the time comes to choose her successor as emperor, she'll select them based on their worth as a leader rather than by blood. Her Part II self in Heroes even mentions how she intends to be the last heir of Hresvelg to hold the title of Emperor.
  • Apologetic Attacker: She is shown apologizing to Byleth before deciding to clash swords with them at some point following the timeskip.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Despite her budding talent for Reason, her Armored Lord and Emperor classes do not have access to magic, requiring a reclass to a less armored class to let her make use of it.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: She can learn Luna, a dark spell that ignores the enemy's resistance, when specializing on Reason.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: She's the Adrestian Empire's emperor-to-be and by far the strongest fighter in the Black Eagles. In fact, Edelgard has the highest overall growths and overall maximum stats out of any playable character, even moreso than Dimitri, Claude, and Byleth. A testament to how the horrific experiments done to her worked as intended.
  • Babies Ever After: She is confirmed to have children in her paired ending with Ferdinand. This the only character ending she has to explicitly state that she becomes a mother.
  • Backstab Backfire: Played with it. In the final cutscene of the Azure Moon route, Dimitri offers her a hand and tries to reconcile with her, but Edelgard just gives him a smile and throws the dagger he gave her at him. Dimitri promptly runs her through with Areadbhar. Whether or not she knew this would happen or indeed was counting on it is purposely left ambiguous. Her death scene after the Enbarr battle in Silver Snow/Verdant Wind implies that she was count on it, ultimately subverting the trope.
  • Badass Adorable: Edelgard is a beautiful young woman who is also a powerful fighter with her axes, and also sports quite the dorky side in some of her side interactions and Supports.
  • Badass Cape: In her academy uniform, she wears an asymmetrical, red cape. Her Lord class and post-timeskip outfit gives her a more traditional cape.
  • Battle Ballgown: Her wardrobe post-timeskip is a regal red gown with armored elements and a Badass Cape.
  • Battle Trophy: On the Silver Snow route, Edelgard uses Rhea’s sword to duel Byleth. Seeing as her preferred weapon is an axe, it’s probably meant to put Byleth off-guard by reminding them of the weapon's history.
  • Benevolent Mage Ruler: She's the heir of the Adestrian Empire and her budding talent is in Reason, meaning she can potentially become a magically-inclined Emperor devoted to her nation's well-being post-timeskip. To her enemies, of course, she would appear more as a Sorcerous Overlord.
  • Big Bad: She is the main antagonist and last opponent on the Azure Moon route.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: It's ultimately revealed that she's the Flame Emperor and one of the game's main antagonists alongside Thales, and stopping her efforts to conquer Fódlan is your primary objective through most of Part II if you don't side with her. However, Thales has his own separate agenda and is far more evil than her, and dealing with him is one of Edelgard's objectives after the war ends (and you take care of him on Silver Snow, Azure Moon (as Arundel), and Verdant Wind).
  • Big Bad Friend: On the Silver Snow route, she spends a little under a year acting as your student and orchestrating attacks on the Church before sticking a knife in your back to wage war against the continent. While she does genuinely value the bonds she made with you, her ambitions come first even if they bring you into conflict with her.
  • Big Sister Instinct: She shows this towards Lysithea should the latter be recruited into the Black Eagles. Edelgard frets over Lysithea's well-being, especially with the knowledge that she too bears two Crests as a result of cruel experimentation, brings her cake, and treats her like a child. Lysithea herself has mixed feelings about this, as she dislikes how patronizing it is, but understands that Edelgard is only trying to help her. Her concern is especially notable given that it is implied that Lysithea was experimented on as a test run for Edelgard's implantation. This is also notable in that, prior to the Cindered Shadows expansion, Lysithea was the only non-Black Eagle student who Edelgard had a support with.note 
  • Big Red Devil: Post-timeskip, she wears all red with noticeable ram horns as hair ornaments. Seeing as how her aim is to completely destroy the church, it's probably intentional.
  • Black Comedy: Edelgard displays a rather dark sense of humor at times. The biggest example is during Chapter 7, where she jokes about the Empire and Kingdom going to war while plotting behind the scenes to actually trigger a war between their nations.
  • Blade Lock: On the Silver Snow route, Emperor Edelgard manages to perform one against Byleth and their Sword of the Creator using the Sword of Seiros. Both then attempt to transition into a strike against the other's throat.
  • Born Unlucky: It's less obvious than other series-wide examples of this (such as Joshua or Arthur), but let's just say that she didn't exactly have the best life, and all due to unfortunate circumstances that generally were beyond her control at the time. Becomes Fridge Brilliance when you look at her Luck Stat, which is basically one of the only stats she's bad at.
  • Boobs of Steel: Post-timeskip Edelgard’s breasts are noticeably larger, and she still opts to use large axes as her primary means of attack. She is also physically strong enough to hold back Byleth's Sword of the Creator with a rapier in a brief sword clash.
  • Breaking Old Trends: While most of the previous emperor characters are all males and unquestioned antagonists, she is a female and playable, just like the only other character that broke this trend Sanaki note , but also playing a protagonist role as one of the Lords.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Performs one of Hubert (during her support with Byleth) and another one of Ferdinand (during her support with... Ferdinand).
  • Byronic Hero: On the Crimson Flower route, to the point where she rivals Arvis as far as this characterization goes. She is incredibly beautiful and charismatic, haunted by her own horrific and traumatized past, and spends a significant chunk of time in her supports and after the timeskip reflecting philosophically on her tortured life. She is absolutely committed to her cause and will stop at nothing to make it a reality, believing it to be the only way. These are the very traits that bring her into conflict with, well, the rest of the continent.
  • The Cameo: Appears in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a spectator on the Garreg Mach Monastery DLC stage alongside Petra and Dorothea, watching fights inside the Reception Hall.
  • Cain and Abel: Plays both Cain and Abel with her stepbrother, Dimitri. Upon discovering her identity as the Flame Emperor, he turns murderous, screaming that he'll have her head, and remains as such for the rest of the game...except on the Azure Moon route. There, he overcomes his hate and tries to reconcile with her, only to get a dagger in the shoulder... and a melancholic smile.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Edelgard's sense of humor is horrible because she fails to make any joke sound funny with the way she says it. People often mistakenly think she's serious about everything she says, often making her look confused as to why no one saw the humor. This also extends to how often she likes to mention the idea of her Empire going up against the other factions in a real battle to the death, which makes both Dimitri and Claude think she's doing a bad joke in poor taste that she rarely ever feels apologetic about. Except she was totally advocating to make that happen, plunging all of Fódlan into chaos for years.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You:
    • On non-Crimson Flower routes, Edelgard captures Rhea and imprisons her for five years, despite knowing she is one of her most powerful and dangerous enemies. This is eventually revealed (via DLC exclusive dialogue in Abyss) to have been because she intended to use Rhea in some way against the Agarthans in Shambala after the war to conquer/unify Fódlan was over.
    • She despises the Agarthans/those who slither in the dark, but avoids killing them as much as she can for as long as she believes she needs their power in the war.
    • In Cindered Shadows, if she defeats Metodey, she lets him escape via the excuse that he's not worth her time, with the real reason being that he's been hired to help her raid the Holy Tomb.
  • Casting a Shadow: She learns some high-tier dark spells like Luna and Hades upon specializing in Reason, and she's one of three characters to pick up Dark Magic Range +1 and Dark Tomefaire instead of their black magic equivalents.
  • Char Clone: Has several traits that make her fit the criteria. Wears red? Check. Blonde hair? Platinum blonde but otherwise check. Has a dark and troubled history? Check. Willing to use force to get what she wants? Check. She even wears a mask as the Flame Emperor and primarily serves as a rival to a heroic blue-themed individual who also happens to be her stepbrother.
  • Character Death: She will always die in non-Crimson Flower paths as a result of being one of your chosen faction's main antagonists, either by choosing to die for what she believes in rather than surrendering once she is finally bested, or by demanding her execution as a means to bring an end to the war and stop any future bloodshed coming from the Empire following her defeat.
  • Character Development: On the Crimson Flower route, she starts off as a cold and ruthless lord with her own ambitions, but softens up thanks to Byleth, even to the point of serving as a big sister/motherly type figure to other characters. Notably, in spite of openly being a non-believer, she adopts a more tolerant and respectful stance towards Seiros' faith and lets her subjects keep practicing the religion despite being at war with the very same Church that founded it. Also, while she never truly abandons her beliefs that sacrifice is sometimes necessary for the greater good, she begins showing hesitance towards losing unnecessary lives, specifically those closer to her. This extends to ordering both the Black Eagle Strike Force right before the final battle and Lysithea in her supports to not throw their lives away if it can be avoided. This is also clearly shown at what may be her lowest point in the Holy Tomb; she openly uses Demonic Beasts (which explicitly involves people being forced to hold crest stones and thus turned painfully into horrific monsters) and Metodey. If Byleth sides with her, she stops using Demonic Beasts entirely for the rest of her campaign against the Church, Faerghus, and Leicester (though "those who slither in the dark" still use them, much to Edelgard and Hubert's chagrin), and only includes well-meaning hard workers who earned their posts in the Imperial Army among her army's leadership. She finally finds the strength to trust in others because Byleth beat some sense into her before actively siding with her.
  • Climax Boss:
    • On non-Crimson Flower routes, she is the final boss of Part I.
    • On the Azure Moon and Verdant Wind routes, she is fought in Chapter 17 during the second battle at Gronder Field.
    • On Verdant Wind and Silver Snow, she is fought for a final time in Chapter 19 (on Silver Snow)/20 (on Verdant Wind). After her defeat, the United Forces turn their attention over to "those who slither in the dark". Notably, this fight with Edelgard is the final map in the Azure Moon route.
  • Combat Stilettos: All three of her outfits feature her wearing stiletto heels in combat.
  • Condescending Compassion: Her support with Caspar sees the latter lightly call Edelgard out on it, as she spends much of the early conversation trying to convince Caspar that he should be upset that his older brother is inheriting a title he doesn't deserve. Caspar bites back that despite the fact that she's framing the conversation about his feelings, she's really making it all about herself and her feelings on the Empire's inheritance system.
  • Conflict Ball: Edelgard ultimately being the instigator of events leading to the War Phase leads to her being the wielder of this. The tragedy of the war is that Edelgard's goals are almost fully aligned with Claude's and she likely could have come to common ground with Dimitri. Downplayed, however, in that from everyone but the player's perspective, Claude is incredibly shady, and, in-universe, not willing to talk about what he wants for the future. A scene in Verdant Wind comes this close to Claude and Edelgard talking about what their goals are during the school phase, but it's always Claude who holds out on information.
  • Contralto of Danger: Has a deep, regal voice befitting her position and power courtesy of Tara Platt. Simlarly, Ai Kakuma also uses a lower tone than her usual voice acting roles, making Edelgard sound more like Sento Isuzu.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Unlike previous main Lords in the franchise, who all in some form or another take after Marth, Edelgard takes more inspiration from antagonists such as Rudolf, Hardin, Arvis, and Walhart. To highlight this, she's the future emperor of Adrestia and is primarily associated with the color red like them as well. She's also much more unscrupulous when it comes to achieving her goals. Notably, she is a major antagonist in 3 out of 4 routes, being the final boss of one, and will have to be fought at least once even in her own route, not something either of the other house leaders accomplish.
  • Control Freak: If "losing control" being in her bio's "dislikes" is any indication. Tragically, though Dimitri offers to work with her on the Azure Moon path, she forces him to kill her, letting only one of them lead. Inverted when it comes to Byleth, however; even after becoming the Emperor, she still defers to their commands in battle, and trusts their judgment when it comes to sparing Claude. In her death quotes as a playable character and in Heroes, post time skip, she will even implore Byleth/the Summoner to lead the others. And also inverted once more regarding her goal of ensuring that Fódlan no longer has blood rights controlling it. As stated in her S-support and tea time with Byleth, as soon as her reforms are done, she will pass over her own throne to a successor she deems worthy and kind to enjoy the benefits of her reforms while she leaves.
  • Cool Crown: Picks one up after the time-skip and becoming Emperor of Adrestia; it's a jeweled tiara with golden, curled ram's horns. The horns may also be intended to invoke the image of the dragon that has been shown in flashbacks of the founding of the Church of Seiros, and by extension the Adrestian Empire.
  • Crush Blush: While it’s clear that Edelgard is intrigued by Byleth in all routes, it’s apparent that she develops a very obvious crush on them in her own route, prompting her to have several moments like this with Byleth. This is especially true in part two of her route. For example, the moment where Caspar talks about how Edelgard was the most worried about Byleth after they disappeared.
  • Crutch Character: She becomes this if the player ends up on the Silver Snow route. Edelgard has solid base stats to carry you for most of Part I's battles. However, come Chapter 11, she'll leave your party permanently and become an enemy. Better hope you didn't over-level her and/or under-level your other units too badly, especially on higher difficulties.
  • Dare to Be Badass:
  • Dark and Troubled Past: During one of her supports with Byleth, she reveals to them that she didn't become her father's heir simply because of her capabilities. She once had ten siblings. Eight older and two younger, all of whom were either crippled by disease, went insane, or died thanks to Crest experimentation. Edelgard herself was no exception, with her white hair being a sign of what she went through.
  • Dark Messiah: Edelgard is convinced that she’s the only person (outside the Agarthans and the Saints) who knows the truth about Fódlan, so she’s the only one who can save it (she's wrong on both points). While she does care about the common people and truly wants a better world for them, in order to achieve that, she’ll stop at nothing and is willing to murder, lie, experiment on innocent lives, ally with the true monsters, and even sacrifice her friends as long as it helps her. She gets a lot better if Byleth sides with her, but if they don’t, she becomes the Big Bad/The Heavy that needs to be put down by the heroes. As a little curious detail, Edelgard is self-aware, at least partially, of her own position as a "Dark Hero", one that either wins as a revolutionary hero or dies as a tyrant.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: On Crimson Flower, her and the Adrestian army retain their red and black asthetic, but as Byleth has sided with them, their worst tendencies are reined in and they become genuinely heroic. This in turn contrasts with Rhea's Light Is Not Good, as this is also the route where she descends into murderous insanity. "those who slither in the dark" remain an aversion, however, as they're just as evil despite being temporary allies.
  • Death Seeker: Her final act during the Azure Moon route could be interpreted as this, considering that she could have easily aimed the dagger at a more lethal spot than Dimitri's shoulder. The relieved smile she shows prior to Dimitri finishing her off shows she wanted that outcome. Given that she also advocated for her death in the Silver Snow/Verdant Wind routes, it would make sense for her to have the same attitude at the end of the Azure Moon route.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Downplayed. If you lead the Black Eagles, she spends the entire year studying under Byleth and the Officers Academy with the intention of betraying them and the Church, which will probably (but not certainly) lead to Byleth coming to blows with her. However, she does develop genuine bonds with them, and despite Hubert's warnings not to reveal too much, hopes (but doesn't believe) that they will side with her.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Of the series' "action lord" archetype popularized by Hector, Ephraim, and Ike. Like many such lords in the past, she has no qualms about using military force to get her way. Unlike previous lords, she is actually willing to incite a war to achieve her aims, and her actions turn her into the unquestioned Big Bad of the Azure Moon route and a major antagonist on the Verdant Wind and Silver Snow routes. Even in her own route, there's a serious argument to be made that she's a Rudolf archetype who just happens to be the POV character this time around.
  • Decoy Protagonist: On the Silver Snow route, she is one of the two main protagonists of the first half of the game, but she betrays you at the midpoint and becomes The Heavy from that point forward.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Can either be played straight or subverted depending on the player's choices at the penultimate chapter of White Clouds on the Black Eagles path. If Byleth has made an effort to connect with Edelgard (achieved at least both C rank supports with her, went to see her coronation), and chooses to spare her life when told by Rhea to kill her, it is played straight, as this is the point where Byleth firmly asserts themselves as Edelgard's closest ally. If none of the above steps are met or Byleth chooses to kill Edelgard at the end of the penultimate chapter of White Clouds, Hubert steps in to save Edelgard and the trope is utterly subverted as Edelgard declares war on the Church... which Byleth has just proven they are loyal to.
  • Defiant to the End: When Part II rolls around, surrender is not an option Edelgard is willing to consider. On the Azure Moon route, despite Dimitri having the complete upper hand and offering her a chance to end the war peacefully, Edelgard decides to fight him to the bitter and bloody end. On Verdant Wind, if you injure Edelgard during the final battle, Claude tries to convince her to lay down her arms, to no avail.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She's cool and distant from her peers due to being singularly focused on achieving her ambitions, but she holds the people who do get to know her dear. On the Crimson Flower route, she even softens up thanks to Byleth.
  • Deuteragonist: In Part I, if Byleth chose the Black Eagles, she's the ostensible leader of the students you're teaching, but Byleth has more screentime and character development. The two switch off in Part II if you side with her as her ambitions begin to drive the plot forward.
  • Didn't See That Coming: She gets thrown a couple of curveballs on her route, although fortunately they are both favorable to her.
    • At the end of Chapter 11, she is pretty much resigned to the belief that once she makes her move against the Church of Seiros, she will have to become enemies with Byleth. She is utterly flabbergasted if they choose to defect to her side.
    • She is surprised when Hanneman and Manuela side with her (and they default to siding with her on the Azure Moon route). In their supports, she asks them why they chose to side with her, given it would seem Manuela's faith and Hanneman's goals run directly contrary to her ideals. They both have to assure her that their actual motivations are quite heavily aligned with hers: Manuela identifies with Edelgard's goal of rewarding hard workers regardless of background, and Hanneman identifies with wanting to make Crests no longer a valuable and exploitable tool of the nobility. She's notably the only house leader they can support with.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In the prologue, she hires a group of bandits to assassinate Dimitri and Claude, but does so in her guise as the Flame Emperor, and is vague enough in her instructions to prevent the whole thing from being traced back to her. Unfortunately for her, she never anticipates that the bandits would be foiled simply because Claude ran away, or that she herself would wind up in their crosshairs and actually come the closest to getting killed. Thanks to Byleth's intervention, though, she survives and then cuts her losses by leaving her erstwhile employees out to dry, and all her later schemes are far more successful in triggering an upheaval against the Church and giving her the opening to move forward with her planned revolution.
  • Dirty Business: Her overall stance towards most of her questionable actions, in particular after the Time Skip. Edelgard is fully aware that what she's doing is morally wrong and does feel remorseful about it (which she conceals in public). At the same time, she's fully convinced that her war is the quickest and only way to reform all of Fódlan with the fewest casualties in the long run, so she will keep pressing on regardless of her own feelings on the matter or the well-being of the enemies she must destroy to accomplish her goal.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: On non-Crimson Flower routes, she is the final boss of the final chapter before the Time Skip as she leads the Empire army to take over Garreg Mach. On the Azure Moon route, she is always the final boss, and in the Silver Snow and Verdant Wind routes, she is a Climax Boss post-timeskip.
  • Disease Bleach: Her white hair is a result of Crest experimentation, possibly Marie Antoinette syndrome. Dimitri's flashback reveals that she was originally a light brunette.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Post-timeskip, she retains her calm politeness but turns the Adrestian Empire into, well, The Empire.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Visually at least, after the time-skip, Edelgard's predominately red armour, horned crown, white hair, penchant for using axes in battle, and being Emperor of a large nation make her seem an awful lot like a female version of Walhart. Heroes coincidentally gives her a weapon and statline very similar to Walhart's. In fact, the events of the game prove that their similarities go beyond mere appearance; both believe in bringing peace to their respective worlds by conquering them, and both have a major anti-divinity slant to their belief systems.
  • Double Agent: She is conspiring to destroy the Church of Seiros as the Flame Emperor, but occasionally acts against her own interests to protect her cover or rein in "those who slither in the dark" when they go too far.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Broadly serves as this to Thales and "those who slither in the dark" on the Verdant Wind and Silver Snow routes. Her ambitions, military, and powers all germinate from the machinations of "those who slither in the dark", and Thales refers to her as their "greatest weapon" in their battle against Sothis's legacy. That said, she actively plans to destroy them once she wins the war, doing so in her own route.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: On the Azure Moon route, Dimitri recounts how she was a very strict dance teacher during their childhood friendship.
  • Dude Magnet: She was Dimitri’s first love, Hubert is totally devoted to and secretly in love with her, and Ferdinand is also hinted to have interest in her and, like Hubert, is jealous of her obsession with Byleth. And of course, depending on who you support her with, other people can show interest in her.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: While not said word for word, her final lines in the Silver Snow/Verdant Wind route, before Byleth kills her, reads very similar to this.

    E — I 
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • At the end of her route, she eventually abolishes Fódlan's class system to create a free and independent society where people can rise by their own merits. If she has an S-Support, it's also mentioned that she's happy with her companion and spends a lot of private and personal moments with them.
    • Edelgard has the only ending where "those who slither in the dark" are definitely defeated, with the other routes leaving it unclear or even having their remnants attack.
  • Easily Forgiven: On the Crimson Flower route, the other playable characters don't give her much grief for lying to them the whole year about being the Flame Emperor and being an accomplice to nearly every bad thing to happen in Part I, culminating in a direct attack against them.
  • The Emperor: Post-timeskip, she's officially ascended to become Emperor of Adrestia. It's even the name of her final, exclusive class.
  • Everyone Can See It:
    • On the Crimson Flower route, when Byleth is reunited with Edelgard and other members of the Black Eagle Strike Force, Caspar is quick to point out that Edelgard was the one who took Byleth's disappearance the hardest, and is probably happier than all of them combined to see their teacher return to them, causing Edelgard to quietly blush and avoid eye contact with Byleth. Dorothea also says that after Byleth's disappearance, it became apparent to all of them that Byleth was Edelgard's emotional anchor.
    • If what Dorothea says is true, the implication is all of Imperial Fódlan can see it, even if it isn't there. Dorothea blithely states it's almost guaranteed that once an opera is made of Edelgard's war, Byleth will be set as a major love interest for Edelgard, if for no other reason than to add romantic tension to the opera.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite allying with "those who slither in the dark" when it comes to their goals, she has shown absolute disgust in their methods and actions of causing chaos in Fódlan, and turns against them at the end of the Crimson Flower route.
  • Evil All Along: Whether or not she can truly be called "evil" is debatable, but she eventually reveals herself to have been the Flame Emperor the entire time and promptly betrays you. Unless you turn over to her side, she becomes one of the main antagonists from that point forward.
  • Evil Former Friend: Azure Moon reveals that she and Dimitri were once good friends in their childhood. By the time they reunite during the events of the game, she's become a warlord who plans to conquer the entire continent to rid it of the Church and the Crest System.
  • Experience Booster: Her personal skill, Imperial Lineage, grants her an additional 20% experience gained after combat.
  • Expy:
    • She's very similar to Lelouch vi Britannia. Both seek to overthrow a corrupt, stagnant, and oppressive status quo, both take up masked alter-egos in order to advance their goals, and both are opposed by chivalrous idealists with deeply troubled pasts. Outside of Crimson Flower, both assume the throne of Emperor and in the process become dangerously close to becoming the monsters they sought to destroy, and both accept their own deaths in order to ensure world peace.
    • If Claude, her fellow Lord, had Yang Wen-Li from Legend of Galactic Heroes as a major source of inspiration, Edelgard — most notably her Crimson Flower self — is rather close to Reinhard von Lohengramm from the same work. Like him, she is an attractive, charismatic and confident Byronic Heroine in charge of an empire with prominent elements — down to naming conventions — of a German Fantasy Counterpart Culture; she displays a great amount of arrogance and a Well-Intentioned Extremist outlook, leaning towards an Anti-Villain/Anti-Hero, depending on interpretation. Like Reinhard, Edelgard harbors a passionate desire to reorganize the realm with any possible means, greatly dislikes the traditional order that favors the corrupt, power-hungry nobles, and wants to build a future where every person is judged on their personal merits rather than the 'proper' lineage (or, in her case, possession of a 'right' Crest). Both of them will also stop at nothing to achieve their dreams of a more egalitarian and progressive society, even if it takes a war to do it. However, thanks to the presence of several friends, both display their softer sides more and moderate their more extreme views. Eventually, both become the victorious rulers of their realms (Galactic Empire for Reinhard, re-unified Adrestian Empire for Edelgard) and lead them into the Golden Agewhile still in their early-to-mid twenties.
  • The Extremist Was Right:
    • Played With. Ultimately, Edelgard is correct that Rhea's grip on Fódlan, plus the focus on nobility and the various Crest systems, etc. were stagnating the entire continent and that change needed to happen. Additionally, her war is at least part of the reason why the eventual winner (whoever they end up being) is able to acquire enough power to make meaningful reforms to the status quo. What she's wrong about is that she is not the only one who can bring such changes. At the end of her route, she ultimately does lead Fódlan into a Golden Age, but at the end of the routes that aren't hers, each new leader is also able to reform and usher Fódlan into a Golden Age via their own principles. Even Rhea herself can help bring about reform on the Silver Snow route, as Edelgard's knowledge of Rhea's intentions and influence on Fódlan proves to be incomplete.
    • Whether she was justified to even start a war is something hotly debated, even in-game. Edelgard strongly feels that in order to do away with the Crest and nobility system, she must get rid of the Church for perpetuating the systems, but both Claude and Dimitri note that her way is too bloodthirsty and costs too many lives and try to find alternatives. That being said, due to the nature of the game, whether Edelgard is “right” is a matter of perspective. While the game's other factions believe Edelgard's way of bringing about peace is wrong or evil, she ultimately is just as capable of bringing Fódlan into a peaceful and prosperous time. And in the routes that aren't hers, her war is implied to be at least partially responsible for shaking the status quo enough for strong reforms to happen. If nothing else, her alliance with "those who slither in the dark" leads to them losing their influence on the continent in one way or another, and with it brings an end to their efforts to suppress progress and foment chaos.
  • Face Death with Dignity: On the Verdant Wind and Silver Snow routes, she accepts her defeat gracefully and doesn't resist when Byleth ultimately finishes her off; indeed, she emphatically argues that they should do it when Byleth hesitates.
  • Face–Heel Turn: If you're a Black Eagle, she betrays you and the Church in Chapter 11 and actually fights you and her classmates. If you stay loyal to the Church afterwards, this becomes permanent.
  • Faith–Heel Turn: Her parley with Dimitri at the end of the Azure Moon route heavily implies the experiments she underwent below the Imperial Palace as a child killed her trust towards the Church of Seiros and their titular goddess. Said event, plus the Hresvelg family's exclusive knowledge of the War of Heroes, convinced her that those in charge of the institution (the Children of the Goddess) are willingly turning a blind eye to the people's suffering as long as they remain controlling and influencing Fódlan.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Played with it in the case of the Nabateans. Edelgard believes Nabateans are merely creatures in human form and that they "lack humanity". Part of why she opposes Rhea is that she feels that humanity must decide its own fate without the Nabateans (mostly Rhea) manipulating them through the Church despite Rhea's benevolent intentions, and charitable actions. Her brave alt in Heroes indicates that her beef with the Nabateans has less to do with them being not human and more of their godhood (as Rhea has used her Church and influence over the people, to paint Sothis, the Nabateans, and the Crests as of divine nature, as her Forging Bonds interaction with Lissa states, and how her dialogue in My Castle has her uncomfortable with the idea of gods and mortals working together, while not expressing dislike over the non-human members of the order or how they have to work with them). On Silver Snow and Verdant Wind, if Seteth and Flayn confront her, they ask that she release Rhea and Fódlan; Edelgard responds thusly:
      Edelgard: I cannot permit what you desire. You are one of the Children of the Goddess. You must not be allowed power over the people!
    • Her dialogue as the Flame Emperor in Heroes reveals that she holds no better views of "those who slither in the dark", in fact it could easily being worse, viewing them as monsters and not as humans. This is implied during her discussion with Thales about Duscur, where she says "There will be no salvation for your kind".
    • When it comes to human races, it's inverted. Edelgard is far more tolerant, such as not looking down on Petra and treating her fairly, and being willing to open up Fódlan borders and start friendly foreign relations with Almyrans in contrast to certain members of the Church looking down on outsiders and forbidding contact with other nations.
  • Fatal Flaw: Has quite a few.
    • Her ambition and need to do things with her own hands leads her to antagonize many of the people around her, even ones she cares about, due to placing her ambition and ideals forged by her past above everything else. This can be mitigated somewhat by Byleth's influence during the Crimson Flower route, but even they, along with the entirety of the Black Eagles sans Hubert, can turn against her due to it. Especially if Byleth does not attend her coronation, her actions in the Holy Tomb irreparably destroy everyone's trust in her. Even if Byleth does come to her coronation, Byleth can still turn against her.
    • Her determination. Though admirable to a degree, her belief in her own ideals and inability to relent to others, as well as to question her own knowledge of the world, leads her to her death at the hands of either Byleth (Verdant Wind/Silver Snow) or Dimitri (Azure Moon).
    • Her hatred of the Church prevents her from seeing Rhea and her kin as anything more than ambition-driven monsters masquerading as humans and makes her see those siding with the Church as enemies. This causes her to refuse to consider other viewpoints and helps lead to her death in any route but her own. Though to be fair, other than Byleth, the only lord that manages to learn most of the Church's truth (Claude) does so thanks to first learning information that Hubert gave him and using it to pressure Rhea. Despite disliking the Church of Seiros, however, she suggests she prefers to strip Rhea of her power instead of outright killing her (which she ends up doing so on non-Crimson Flower routes by keeping her jailed in the Imperial Palace), an action quite similar to what she does to Duke Aegir in all routes, a man that she has every right to hate (though her intentions with Rhea are eventually revealed to be quite different from with the Duke, namely she keeps Rhea alive on non-Crimson Flower routes because she intends to use her as insurance against the Agarthans, and unlike the Duke's standard albeit restraining house arrest, Rhea is kept in quite poor health in a hidden cell).
    • Her tendency to work with amoral individuals to achieve her goals, which leads to people believing the worst of her. The scumbags whose company she keeps include "those who slither in the dark", who perform countless terrible acts of mass murder and genocide, bloodthirsty bandits like Metodey, Kingdom nobles lead by Cornelia who played a part in the Tragedy of Duscur and the genocide of the Duscur people, and greedy power-hungry Alliance nobles represented by the likes of Gloucester who have killed innocent merchants out of petty greed and only care about personal power. On Crimson Flower, though, she manages to detach herself from most of these "allies", even going as far as to kill Cornelia, and eventually the rest of the Agarthans.
    • Her obsession with the future, while ignoring the present and disregard for the past. Her need to create a better future, no matter how off in the distance it could be, leads her to brush off the suffering and pain her war causes in the present time on everyone as long they eventually lead to it, especially the commoners, while her disregard for the past leads her to ignore how it was the past that shaped her and others into who they are now. At the end of the Azure Moon route, her transformation into Hegemon Edelgard shows her complete discarding of both, which has left her so thoroughly changed that she has willingly abandoned her very humanity — a fact Dimitri will tell her directly to her face should they engage in battle, and Edelgard makes no rebuttal when he does. Finally, though the Crimson Flower route does vindicate her vision, whether things would (or should) still go the way she hopes they will after she dies remains a hotly-contested question.
    • The most literal example is her refusal to compromise or accept any outcome of the war other than her own complete victory with her as absolute ruler of Fódlan, as it is what ultimately kills her in each route where she dies. That is, in the final battle with her, Byleth, Dimitri, and Claude each express a desire/willingness to spare her life and work with her to better Fódlan, recognizing the good she seeks to accomplish, but she refuses each of them in one way or another (arguing for her own death or forcing them to kill her by continuing to fight after being offered mercy). This happens even when she admits they share many of the same beliefs (as with Claude). It is also a notable difference between her and Rhea, who in every route where she survives will willingly step aside to allow others to reform Fódlan, as long as Byleth is one of the leaders. If S-ranked, Rhea will even cooperate with Byleth to undo her past mistakes and enable progress for Fódlan. Edelgard takes no such options of compromise; indeed, she refuses to acknowledge them as options.
      Edelgard: There can be only one ruler of the world.
  • The Fatalist: Edelgard is convinced that it's her destiny to reunify Fódlan by any means necessary, abolish its status quo, and oppose the Children of the Goddess as a result of being a scion of Hresvelg, as she believes her ancestor Wilhelm I supported Seiros and her church into subjugating humanity under her kin's influence. It's due to this Edelgard believes she can't afford to have second thoughts on the matter as there are many lives at stake, which in the Azure Moon route is what ultimately drives her to become Hegemon Edelgard in spite of going against everything she believes in. Her fatalism is also the reason why she's convinced a confrontation with Byleth is inevitable due to their connection to Rhea and Sothis, which explains why she's utterly dumbfounded should they choose to side with her instead at the Holy Tomb.
    Edelgard: Even I cannot choose the direction my path leads me. There is no other way. And so, I must walk on.
  • Fighting Your Friend: If you're a Black Eagle, she turns against Byleth and fights them and her classmates as the boss of Chapter 11. If Byleth attends her coronation earlier that month, they are then presented a choice at the end of the battle, leading to a branching path: either try to execute her on Rhea's orders (Silver Snow) or defect to Edelgard's side (Crimson Flower). If on the Silver Snow route, this aspect with Edelgard is emphasized more than other routes, as she becomes a more personal nemesis to Byleth. Unlike the Crimson Flower route, where Edelgard reunites with Byleth in a tearful hug, in the Silver Snow route, the two cross swords at their reunion, fully cementing their opposition to each other.
  • Final Boss: She is the final enemy faced on the Azure Moon route as Hegemon Edelgard.
  • Foil:
    • To Claude. Like him, at the start of the game, she harbors a goal to unite Fódlan under her rule in order to see her ideals and dreams realized, is keen to use/manipulate Byleth to achieve that goal, and she views the Church of Seiros’ teachings as an obstacle to that dream. Unlike her, however, Claude is willing to take his time understanding the truth about Fódlan, while she drives the plot forward with her schemes as the Flame Emperor and her eventual declaration of war; Claude is not particularly keen on using violence or brute force to get his way if he doesn’t have to; he is perfectly fine with reforming or working together with the Church instead of destroying it completely; and, even without Byleth to guide him, he can eventually accept the fact that other people may be better-suited to accomplishing his dreams than he is. In their interactions with each other, Claude is lighthearted and indirect, while Edelgard is direct, serious and no-nonsense.
    • Interestingly enough, she happens to be one to Zephiel of all people, ideology wise. Both are willing to wage a war with the entire continent to achieve the world they want...but where they differ is who they think it should belong to. Zephiel has a strong hatred for humans in general and believes that the world needs to be given back to the dragons, who are essentially like gods to Elibe. Edelgard on the other hand believes that Fódlan is better off out of the hands of the gods, church, and dragons, and instead put into the hands of mankind itself. Both went through tragedies that inspired them to be this way, with Zephiel constantly having to avoid his father's assassination attempts and Edelgard constantly being experimented on over her crest during her childhood.
  • Foreshadowing: On the Black Eagles route, Edelgard will promise to return to the monastery to meet Byleth in five years. Every house leader does this, however, Edelgard adds she will return "even if the Millennium Festival is canceled", which foreshadows how she expects her actions will affect the festival. Sure enough, she returns, even on Silver Snow where she and Byleth have become enemies.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: She and Dimitri were childhood friends when she and her uncle hid out in Faerghus, but her memories of this time are clouded, likely due to the experiments that were performed on her afterward. However, she does recall that her first love was a noble from Faerghus long ago, she just doesn't remember he was Dimitri. Her memory clears up in Azure Moon.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric. Edelgard is one of the most headstrong and stubborn characters in the game, refusing to allow her path to end without either her victory or her death. She can be harsh on occasion, but is incredibly diligent, and values the same trait in others.
  • Frame-Up: On the Crimson Flower route, after Arundel destroys Arianrhod due to Edelgard deliberately seeking Cornelia's demise during the capture of the fort, she willingly frames the Church of Seiros for the deed with the intention of avoiding potential infighting between her allies at the most crucial time.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • In addition to the Lord-friendly prerequisite boons of swords and authority, Edelgard's boons of axes and heavy armor are tied to one of the preferred infantry fighters the Empire uses (heavy armored axe wielders; the Empire is also noted for its magic wielders). Very early in the game, Ferdinand will even tell the player that the black heavy armor worn by Empire soldiers is one of the inspirations for the Black Eagles' class name.
    • Aside from bows, her main bane in Faith is deeply rooted in her pronounced misotheism and her desire to end the Church of Seiros andremove the Children of the Goddess of power, to the point that she initially shares Those Who Slithers' goal of wiping out the few of them that remain. However, she will soften that look with Byleth on her side and allow them to live as long as they're out of power — an offer that Seteth and Flayn may accept but Rhea won't. Tied to this is that she's one of two characters who can't be deployed on the paralogue "Legend of the Lake", as it involves the party meeting The Inmovable, a giant turtle who's heavily implied to be one of the Children of the Goddess: Saint Indech.
    • As one of the victims of Crest Experimentation, whose intent was to create a Supersoldier with enough power to kill Sothis and the remaining Nabateans, Edelgard has among some of the highest stat caps in the game, and the second highest overall stat cap total at 390 (only Cyril exceeds her at 395, and that is primarily because of his Aptitude skill). An interview with the development team even cites that the experiments Edelgard and her family went under were a more "refined" version of the experiments that Lysithea and her siblings went through, which explains not only her far higher stat caps, but the fact that Edelgard is generally more robust and powerful, whereas Lysithea is weaker and more prone to bouts of illness. Edelgard even has a Magic cap on par with other Magic-inclined units (72) in addition to the second highest Strength cap (81) after Dimitri (87).
    • Her Hidden Talent is in Reason Magic, which is rooted in knowledge. She's also one of five characters who can innately learn Dark Magic, which makes sense as someone who's had contact with Those Who Slither in the Dark. Ironically, despite presenting herself as someone who epitomizes cool, hard logic, Edelgard's perception of history - rooted in both the false history the Empire had created for generations as well as the Agarthans' long-standing hatred of both the Goddess and surface-dwellers - is ultimately incorrect, and Edelgard is too stubborn to accept anything different.
    • Unlike the other Lords, Edelgard only has three support partners from outside her house rather than the five Dimitri & Claude get: Lysithea (who also has two Crests); Hanneman; and Manuela (both of whom hail from the Empire), reflecting her distance from others. The Cindered Shadows DLC added a fourth in Constance, but much like Hanneman and Manuela, Constance is from Adrestia. Additionally, Constance has every reason to seek Edelgard out, meaning that even if Edelgard didn't want to grow close to Constance, there was no way Constance would let her stay away.
    • Edelgard has a hard time trusting other people and only confides in the ones close to her. The player has to reach her C+ support level to be invited to her coronation in Enbarr, which in turn is an obligatory pre-requisite to get an opportunity to side with her after the Holy Tomb battle later. Choosing her route is a prerequisite for her B support (unlike most other characters, whose C and B supports are accessible pre-timeskip). In other words, you must get to know Edelgard better to stay on her good side.
    • Edelgard is most open about rewarding trust, hard work, and dedication. As such, she gets supports with professors Hanneman and Manuela, which the other house leaders don't. Additionally, she has a paired ending for every support except her one with Petra, making the greatest proportion of supports among house leaders to reach an ending. Her support path with Petra, and Petra's solo ending, also implies what their ending would entail.
    • One of her Fatal Flaws is stubbornness and a refusal to admit potential wrongdoing; fitting this, she reacts poorly to being criticized in class, unlike the other two Lords.explanation 
    • She's one of three characters to learn Monster Breaker, the Axe's monster-targeting Hunter Art, and despite having a weakness in Faith she gains the Seraphiim spell, again getting bonus damage against monsters. This is because she carries Fantastic Racism against the Nabataea, who she sees as monsters and indeed take bonus damage from monster weapons/attacks. This also makes her effective against Crested Beings as a whole, included the Agarthan modified beasts.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Edelgard gets badly wounded in the Azure Moon version of the second battle of Gronder Field and is forced to spend a great deal of time recuperating, which allows Lord Arundel the opportunity to assume more direct command of the Imperial army. It also likely explains why she feels the need to become the Hegemon Husk during the final battle, as she never does so in Verdant Wind or Silver Snow despite being in similarly dire circumstances.
  • Get Out!: Played for laughs when Byleth stumbles on a painting she drew of them in her room; an embarrassed Edelgard claims she has a meeting with Hubert before resorting to just throwing you out.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Flashbacks show she wore her hair this way when she was living in the Kingdom.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Funnily enough, Edelgard responds well to being given a stuffed teddy bear (albeit one clad in armour) as a gift.
  • Glacier Waif: Her growths and personal class lend her to being a Mighty Glacier, and she swings around a giant axe. She's also only five foot one.
  • Good Counterpart: On the Crimson Flower route, she serves as this to previous games' Rudolf archetypes, particularly Arvis, Walhart, and Ashnard. Despite plunging the continent into war, and still doing morally dubious things like framing the Church, and cooperating with the Agarthans, she avoids the worst traits of the Rudolf archetypes.
    • In Arvis's case, she manages to avoid relying too much on her evil allies and successfully double-crosses them in the end, never becomes possessive over loved ones like Arvis did over Deirdre, and remains regretful over the things she did such as killing Dimitri and plunging the continent to war even if she hides it, unlike Arvis who still justifies himself over his betrayal of Sigurd.
    • In Walhart's case, while they both sought conquest and to defeat a dragon deity to free humanity, Walhart lacked compassion, many territories under his rule suffered, and he refused to show mercy towards his enemies, while Edelgard is willing to spare Claude, laments over Dimitri's hatred, and even tries to get Seiros to surrender in contrast to Arundel.
    • In Ashnard's case, they both sought to revolutionize the continent to allow a more meritocratic society with a particular disdain for blood rights. However, Ashnard viewed strength in combat as the primary value to perceive in others, while Edelgard is able to see value in other skills, goes out of her way to accomodate Linhardt's special needs to provide a mutually beneficial job, and is patient with Bernadetta's anxiety.
  • Good Costume Switch: In her own route, if you decide to side with her against the Church of Seiros, she dumps her villainous Flame Emperor armor for her heroic Officers Academy uniform (or whatever class outfit you have her equipped with) during the invasion of Garreg Mach.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: While she’s not evil (depending on the route), her primary associated color is red, sharing this trait with previous Red Emperor archetypes. The color is also traditionally associated with enemy units, tying into the fact that she is one of the primary antagonists of the game in every route but her own.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: She is controllable during the tutorial, but if you choose the Blue Lions or Golden Deer, she permanently leaves your party. She can become one even if you select the Black Eagles if you decide to oppose her after the events in the Holy Tomb, at which point she will leave your party permanently and you will transition to the Silver Snow route. The only other way to control Edelgard outside of the main story regardless of house is through the Cindered Shadows side story.
  • The Heavy: On all routes other than her own, she is the main threat for at least 80% of Part II.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Downplayed. While her primary weapon is an axe, she consistently uses swords as a backup on all routes other than her own. On Silver Snow she uses the Sword of Seiros in a cutscene duel with Byleth, while on Azure Moon and Verdant Wind she uses it as her secondary weapon in the Battle at Gronder, likely because she's prone to blowing through Aymr's uses with Raging Storm.
  • Heroic Bastard: Or at the very least Anti-Heroic. Her mother was a royal mistress, as Emperor Ionius had already married for political reasons when her parents first met; and she was not the only mistress Ionius kept at that. But Edelgard also believes that Ionius loved her mother above all others, though whether or not this is true or just what she chooses to believe is left open to interpretation. Becomes a straight up Bastard Bastard in all non-Crimson Flower routes.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: On the Azure Moon path, her willingness to do whatever she must for her ideals leads to her forsaking her own humanity by willingly transforming herself into a demonic beast called a Hegemon Husk. Her complete transformation even features "Shambhala (Area 17 Redux)", showing how she's become no better than "those who slither in the dark" by abandoning her humanity.
  • The High Queen: At the end of the Crimson Flower route, she does away with titles and nobility, turning Fódlan into a meritocracy beloved by the commonfolk. All the while, she continues to wage war on "those who slither in the dark" to bring lasting peace to Fódlan.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: On Silver Snow, at least, the same tactic she uses to blitzkrieg Garreg Mach is also the same tactic used against her to end the war with the Church victorious; have soldiers infiltrate the nearby villages as merchants, performers, and travelers, before going for an attack the enemy has little time to prepare for.
  • History Repeats: Her parents' romance began when Emperor Ionius sneaked into the Goddess Tower during a visit back to Garreg Mach after his coronation and met Edelgard's mother there, who had just enrolled. While it's not their first meeting, Byleth's own romance with Edelgard can be said to begin when they have their own encounter at the Goddess Tower on the night of the ball, provided she's ultimately the person Byleth S Supports with.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Though she has a weakness in Faith, if trained in it, she will learn the Seraphim spell, which is very effective against Monster-type enemies.
  • Horns of Villainy: The Cool Crown she adopts after the time-skip is this.
  • Hot for Teacher: On her own route she is this, as she becomes infatuated with Byleth while under their instruction. It's implied in the other routes as well, but to a much lesser extent.
  • Hunter of Monsters: Edelgard excels in killing monsters, with the Monster Breaker combat art and the Seraphim spell dealing effective damage against them.
  • Hypocrite:
    • While resolute in her ideals and motivated by her formative years of abuse, she's willing to put Fódlan through years of chaos in pursuit of accomplishing her goal of a better future, causing the exact same suffering she (and many others) have experienced at the hands of those in power onto the world. For her part, Edelgard is actually self-aware of this strange contradiction, and it still fits her overall utilitarian mentality, as she claims short-term suffering is a worthy price to pay if it means potentially preventing it long-term.
    • Despite loathing the methods of "those who slither in the dark", she is shown to actively aid them with their experiments by collecting Crest Stones for them to use to turn innocents into Demonic Beasts with her assault on the Holy Tomb, a grave where many Crest Stones rest in peace. She also explicitly lends them the Death Knight, who then helps them kidnap Flayn for more experiments. Ultimately, she's more complicit in their crimes than she'd like to admit, and it takes Byleth's influence for her to genuinely distance herself from them in the Crimson Flower route.
    • On the Verdant Wind route, she declares to Claude that she cannot entrust Fódlan to him despite having similar ideals due to having insufficient knowledge of Fódlan's suffering. While she has knowledge of some of the modern day injustices that plague Fódlan, she is unaware of the context around them (Crests being a responsibility used to protect the nation in Faerghus, etc.), and, unbeknownst to her, is actually ignorant of crucial aspects of Fódlan's past. Specifically, she doesn't know that Nemesis was a bandit who committed genocide on the Children of the Goddess, and that he and his lackeys consumed those they slaughtered for power and turned the Goddess' body into a weapon (these details are only known by Rhea and a few others before the end of the war, though). Had she known this, she would have realized that Rhea was primarily driven by pain and loss, just like her, rather than being purely motivated to control humanity. Ironically, Claude ends up being the only lord who gets to learn most of this information after he pressures a weakened Rhea enough.
    • In the English version, Edelgard expresses that she knows how the poor suffer and that Dimitri is too privileged to understand it. Never mind that she herself never interacts nor can support with any commoner save for Dorothea and Manuela. By contrast, not only can Dimitri support one more commoner than her (he can interact with Ashe, Raphael and Alois), but by the time Dimitri reunites with Byleth after the timeskip, he has spent years in the slums, living with the poorest people and has seen how war has ravaged their lives.
    • In spite of believing the Children of the Goddess ended up ruining Fódlan as a result of lacking humanity, in the Azure Moon route, once Edelgard has been pushed into a corner, she ultimately ends up discarding hers to assume the form of a Hegemon Husk as a last ditch effort to win the war.
    • In a small case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, a major rallying cry of Edelgard's revolution is a complete upheaval of the nobility system. Edelgard wants to do away with crests and the inheritance-based system that the old social structure provided, complete with the removal of noble titles. Despite this, in a number of character end cards like Ferdinand, Lorenz and Constance's, Edelgard specifically rewards classmates who sided with her with the titles they would've obtained normally under the previous social order. Two notable exception can happen with Caspar and Manuela however, as they can become the new Minister of Military Affairs and Prime Minister respectively only in Crimson Flower due to their contributions, as neither has the ability to earn those respective titles otherwise. It's also worth noting that in her A-support with Constance, Edelgard comments she intends to make the transition to the new social order smooth and gradual, and that the old nobility will be forced to act as government officials and be elected through popular vote if they intend on remaining in their position.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Edelgard concedes Dimitri during their parlay near the end of Azure Moon her actions are self-righteous, but remains resolute on that someone had to take action and change things for the better regardless.
  • Hypocrite Has a Point:
    • In the Verdant Wind route, Claude actually agrees with Edelgard's assessment that he does not have enough knowledge of Fódlan's suffering. This is implied to partly be the reason why he leaves Byleth in charge of Fódlan while he becomes king of Almyra.
    • Zigzagged on her own hypocrisies on being able to have meaningful dialogue with others. She's not wrong about the Church refusing to have a dialogue about change, at least as long as Rhea is still dead-set in her ways due to the falsehoods she's perpetrated for what she believed to be the greater good before her Heel Realization. All the endings where the Church reforms are only possible because Rhea either dies, willingly gives up her power to let others fix her mistakes, or has a full turn of faith to address the wrongs she's allowed to go forth. At the same time, as a result of Edelgard’s version of history negatively warping her perception of the Children of the Goddess, she never tried to open a dialogue with the Church and always sought war and conflict as her first solution due to her belief that the faith makes people weak, and Rhea only responds with violence onscreen to those who use violence against her first.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: How she justifies many of her more morally questionable actions. Deconstructed in that her belief that she has to go the route she's chosen is often portrayed as a major flaw, as it makes her unwilling to make compromises or accept that there might indeed be another way, and makes it impossible to make peace with her unless you're on her route.
  • Ignored Epiphany:
    • Discussed in her own route. Just as Edelgard makes her final preparations, Byleth can ask her if she wishes to back down with the full-scale war she is about to launch on Fódlan as anxiety starts catching up to her. Edelgard tells them that no; she has to seek the end of her path and that it's far too late for second guesses at that point.
    • Downplayed and discussed during her supports with Manuela in regard to her antagonism concerning the Church of Seiros. Edelgard comments to the former songstress she is aware how the church has done good things for Fódlan, yet she can't help but feel disdain for it due to the institution's long-term negative influence on the land.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: In her own route, she'll comment to Byleth, right when she's waiting for the main army that will soon invade Garreg Mach, how her actions will undoubtedly lead to the sacrifice of multiple lives for the sake of creating a better world where there's no longer any need for sacrifices. She then admits how contradictory her idea sounds, yet fully believes that's how things have to be.
  • Implied Love Interest: For Byleth and vice versa on the Crimson Flower route, with several scenes outside of her Support conversations heavily implying that she is quite enamored with them regardless of gender.
  • Inadequate Inheritor:
    • Discussed on the Crimson Flower route; ambient tea party dialogue will reveal that she plans to defy this for Adrestia, stating when the time comes to choose her successor, it will be someone who is worthy, even if that person is not her own child. Given that she wants to turn the Empire into a meritocracy and abolish the nobility, this is in-keeping with that goal.
    • On all routes other than Crimson Flower, she ultimately becomes one (kind of) to her father Ionius IX. She allows "those who slither in the dark" to ruthlessly abuse her people after gaining the throne (a process that had its own morally murky aspects), leading to an outright new revolt in Hrym thanks to "Arundel"'s actions after Duke Aegir left Hrym (as detailed in Ferdinand and Lysithea's paralogue), she starts a bloody war against the Church, Kingdom, and Alliance, loses said war despite having numerous logistical advantages against them, and in roughly six years manages to cause the complete destruction of the Empire, though thanks in part to almost-literal divine intervention.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Implied near the end of the Azure Moon route. During her conversation with Dimitri, when he tells her the new world she intends to create will only benefit strong people like herself, Edelgard scoffs at the idea that she is a strong person before quickly continuing with the discussion, hinting that she doesn't consider herself the inexorable lady that Dimitri believes her to be.
  • Informed Attribute: Edelgard's profile in Part I mentions "debating historical viewpoints" as one of her likes. No supports of hers ever dwell on this matter, and in the few instances where Edelgard can be seen talking about history, she's either speculating in a war speech how the church is responsible for splitting Fódlan in the first place, and when she is telling Byleth her family's secret version of the War of Heroes.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Several of her comments indicate that Edelgard has a habit of speaking her mind without much care for what others think, though not because she has ill intent. For example, she doesn't seem to realize the implications of a statement she makes about how the other nations are all offshoots from the original empire when said nations’ future leaders are right next to her.
  • Internal Reformist: She wants to abolish the system of hereditary monarchy, which is the main reason she's in power. To achieve this for the rest of the continent, she overthrows Rhea and abolishes the Church's central authority, bringing her into conflict with the other nations.
  • Iron Lady: Edelgard's general demeanor is one of cold focus, which she acknowledges may make her come across as arrogant and distant. Post-timeskip, she fully embodies the stoic, hardened emperor persona, with the exception of the Crimson Flower, and to a lesser extent, Silver Snow routes.
  • Irony:
    • Her strong attachment to Byleth began when they saved her at the beginning of the story from a bandit. A bandit whom, unbeknownst to them, was hired by Edelgard herself as part of her plan to attack the party she was with the objective of killing non-specific nobles.
    • Her raid on the Holy Tomb in Chapter 11 is considered a Moral Event Horizon by several characters In-Universe, most notably Rhea herself, who immediately demands her execution. But the only way to actually stop Edelgard from her unsavory goal of using the Crest Stones she's gathered to create more Demonic Beasts is to take her side and choose to protect her, which will promptly send Rhea into a murderous rage.
    • The key reason she's despised by her enemies and dies in most routes is her refusal to make peace and willingness to go to incredible extremes in the pursuit of her ideals. On Crimson Flower, she finds herself on the receiving end of that very same extremism from her enemies, such as Dedue willingly using Crest Stones on Dimitri's army (which is so eerily similar to "those who slither in the dark"'s handiwork that Hubert initially suspects them), and Rhea's remaining forces setting Fhirdiad on fire rather than accepting Edelgard's offer of surrender.
    • The war she starts as part of a plan to both restore Adrestia to greatness and destroy the Church of Seiros can not only end with the collapse of Adrestia as a nation when she refuses to surrender, but can even make the Church of Seiros in theory more powerful when her war dismantles the three countries (in practice various reforms prevent this, and Byleth is considered the leader of Fódlan rather than leader of the church).
    • Her war speech at the end of Chapter 11 on non-Crimson Flower routes becomes this in hindsight after the release of the Wave 4 DLC, as one of the books in the abyssal library heavily indicates that "those who slither with the dark" were behind splitting the Empire into 2 more nations in an attempt to sink Fódlan into chaos, rather than the Church as a means to keep their influence and power over the continent as Edelgard herself speculates.
    • Edelgard feels that Nabateans lack humanity and thus shouldn't lead Fódlan. On the Azure Moon route, once she has finally been cornered, she willingly sacrifices the remains of her humanity to turn into Hegemon Edelgard, an incredibly powerful Crest Monster, even after being warned ahead of time that such a process might be irreversible.
    • Her chewing Dimitri out about him being born into a place of privilege and not knowing how the poor feel or what they want becomes this, as we do learn that over the five year time skip, he did in fact live among the poor, becoming aware of their hardships when he did so. note 
    • Despite her hatred of the Church, she not only has the Crest of her Arch-Enemy Seiros, but also the Crest of the goddess herself in the form of the Crest of Flames.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: At the end of the Azure Moon route, after she is defeated, Dimitri grants her mercy and offers her his hand. Edelgard reaches for a dagger instead and throws it at Dimitri, forcing Dimitri to kill her anyway.
  • It's All About Me: Discussed in her C-Support conversation with Caspar and played straight in that Edelgard has shades of this mindset at some points of the game, such as her saying that only one can rule Fódlan and she will rule it as Hegemon Edelgard at the end of the Azure Moon route.
    Edelgard: I understand. It's difficult being born a noble. Those who inherit everything also inherit great burdens, but the same can be said of those who inherit nothing.
    Caspar: What are you talking about? I don't have any troubles. Who cares if I don't inherit anything? It just means I get to cut a path to my own future. You know what your problem is, Edelgard? You always have to make everything about you.
  • Ironic Name: Her name in German translates to “Noble Protector”, making it ironic due to her goal to dismantle the system that keeps nobility in power.
  • I've Come Too Far: On the Azure Moon route, she gives this reason to Dimitri and Byleth as to why she cannot make peace with Faerghus, even as the rest of Fódlan united under the Holy Kingdom prepares to march on the Empire's capital city, stating that she must walk her "path" and cannot turn back.
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    J — Q 
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: While she primarily specializes in axes, heavy armor, and authority, with the exception of faith magic, she knows a little something about everything as an antagonist. As a unit, she's more versatile than both Dimitri and Claude, being the only one with a viable magic growth and spell list.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Edelgard isn't normally a jerk, her response to Byleth grieving over the loss of Jeralt is the harshest among all the three Lords. That said, Sothis believes she isn't wrong to say what she did, since Byleth must eventually get over Jeralt's death and move on with their life. This takes on more meaning when it's revealed that this is exactly how Edelgard herself is dealing with her grief over losing all of her siblings to the experiments performed on them.
  • Karma Houdini: Only on the Crimson Flower route:
    • While Byleth does serve as her Morality Chain, helps Edelgard to trust in others again, and prevents her from losing her humanity like in other routes, she still commits morally questionable acts in the name of her cause like kickstarting a war and, unlike Dimitri, she never becomes The Atoner nor does a Redemption Quest by the time peace has been achieved. As far as Edelgard herself is concerned, however, by successfully unifying Fódlan and having altered the status quo, she has finally made peace with herself due to proving that all the sacrifices she caused weren't in vain.
    • Edelgard also never faces any major repercussions for her dealings with "those who slither in the dark". The most punishment she gets is having Arianrhod blown up as retaliation for Cornelia's deliberate death, but it ultimately doesn't stop her from squashing them with the Imperial army after the events of the story. Even characters like Lysithea, Leonie, and Hapi, who otherwise despise the group for what they did to them personally, show no hard feelings towards her and can fight for the Empire with little argument if they were recruited.
  • Kill the God: Her ultimate goal is to topple the Church of Seiros and slay Rhea, who is actually the Semi-Divine Seiros, in order to free Fódlan from the gods' influence. Ironically, she works with an actual God (as Sothis gives Byleth her power, which is explicitly stated to be the power of the progenitor God) to do this in the Crimson Flower route. Even she recognizes the irony near the end of her route.
  • Knight Templar: There are few lines she won't cross to make her ambition a reality, and she's more than willing to use force against those who would try to oppose her. She's willing to have Flayn kidnapped, works with unsavory people like Hubert (who is genuinely loyal to her, but has ensured her success with incredibly underhanded methods), Jeritza (whose Split Personality is the Death Knight, who kills random people at night for fun, though she genuinely wants to give him a better life) and "those who slither in the dark" (who are completely unsympathetic, and she makes it clear that she is disgusted with them over their actions) and ultimately is willing to start a war to bring about her vision of a better Fódlan and will cut down her former classmates if they stand in her way. Not even picking her house can dissuade her from her plans, but Byleth's influence causes her to take a more merciful stance such as sparing enemies, not persecuting followers of the Church who aren't complicit with Rhea's actions, and being far quicker to distance herself from her most reprehensible allies.
  • Lack of Empathy: Ultimately proves to be a Subverted Trope. At first glance, Edelgard can come off as rather dimissive of the hardships that her peers may have experience; all but telling Byleth directly to suck it up when they are grieving Jeralt's death (and instead use the experience to keep moving forward) and her completely dismissive attitude towards Dimitri after it gets revealed that she's the Flame Emperor. Closer inspection of her dialogue reveals that this is the type of mentality Edelgard had to take with herself in order to cope with her own trauma.
  • Lady of War: Edelgard is an interesting take on this trope. While she fights gracefully and carries an air of dignity, she uses axes as her weapon of choice, a weapon that isn't ladylike. However, she still has an affinity for swords.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Edelgard staged the bandit attack at the start of the game to kill Dimitri and Claude. She comes closer to dying in it than either of them.
  • The Leader: She is the house leader of the Black Eagles at the Officers Academy, and thus has authority over all other members in the house as they originate from her empire, which she will eventually rule. Her authority ultimately still falls short of Byleth, however, as they can even issue orders to Edelgard herself.
  • Leitmotif:
    • "The Edge of Dawn" and its variations primarily fills this role for her, as the song is about Edelgard and her feelings throughout the game.
      • In the credits on all routes other than her own, the song plays as a Tragic Villain song, lamenting that she has become the monster she feared becoming due to the protagonist not siding with her.
      • On her own route, the end credits song is "The color of Sunrise", a much brighter song that reflects the fact that her tragic fate was averted, and that she was able to bring about the reforms she sought.
    • On the Crimson Flower route and Azure Moon route, the final boss theme, “Apex of the World”, is a remix of “Edge of Dawn”. While on the Crimson Flower route, the theme has a very heroic connotation, it tragically becomes a Villain Song on the Azure Moon route, as Edelgard is the final boss.
    • She has "The Leader's Path", which starts playing towards the end of Part I when her true colours as a Well-Intentioned Extremist are revealed and for most of her appearances in Part II. Fittingly, reflecting her personality, the song is somewhere between a sinister villain theme and a heroic military march - the sinister tone dropping off about 30 seconds in. The song contains the literal drumbeats of war, but the longer it goes on, more heroic horns and hopeful other instruments join in.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Has great Strength and Speed bases and an excellent Strength growth. However, her Speed growth is merely average and her unique classes do not provide any bonus to its growth. She still manages to be this trope with her unique Combat Art Raging Storm, which lets her move again if she so much as connects her attack. She can do this as much as 5 times with a fully-repaired Aymr.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Her white hair is a result of Crest experimentation. As seen in a flashback, her natural hair is a light brown.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Played With as it is enforced by outside forces as well as self-inflicted obliviously by Edelgard herself. Edelgard believes she has a greater understanding of Fódlan's true history and present reality than she actually does. This is due to her Agarthan allies only telling her what little they want her to know, and Edelgard's own insider information, passed down via the emperors by the first Adrestian Emperor, Wilhelm I, lacking knowledge regarding certain key points and providing a different explanation to Seiros' motivations during the War of Heroes compared to what her intentions were in reality. For specific cases, Edelgard believes that the church was behind the splitting up of the Adrestrian Empire, but Abyss records indicate that the Agarthans were the true force behind the scenes. Edelgard also claims the church's real mission is to rule the world via manipulation, but a Nintendo Dream interview confirmed that Rhea and her allies meddling in society was not done out of any desire to rule over humanity, but to avoid large-scale conflict.
  • Lonely at the Top:
    • Part of her fixation with Byleth is due to the fact that they were the only ones to ever interact with her as an equal. Everyone else is too affected by her status to treat her as such. This is reinforced by her support dialogues with characters other than Byleth showing them being too concerned about her position, or just being incapable of understanding her.
    • While Edelgard continues to steel herself with the reality that she'll likely have to burn bridges with all of her classmates close to her in order to achieve her dream this turns out to be harder than she lets on in the Silver Snow route. She shows up at the Goddess Tower to keep her promise to her classmates, hoping against hope that they would have a change of heart and join her side. She instead only finds Byleth who themselves still rejects her offer.
  • Love Confession: Gives the equivalent of one to Byleth just before the final battle against Rhea at the end of the Crimson Flower route, admitting to them that they're someone very special to her and that she hopes she's someone special to them as well.
  • Magic Knight: Edelgard has good growths in both Strength and Magic and a budding talent in Reason, making her a viable candidate for classes like Dark Knight and magic weapons like the Bolt Axe, but her higher base Strength makes her better at wielding physical weapons regardless like her Axe, Amyr.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The Masculine Girl to Dimitri's Feminine Boy. She is a member of a traditionally-male archetype, uses a more masculine weapon (axes), and is stoic and unyielding. Also, in flashbacks featuring them as kids, Edelgard was more outgoing and energetic, whereas Dimitri was more meek and soft-spoken.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: She's one of Emperor Ionius' eleven children. Sadly, every one of them besides Edelgard did not survive the dark experimentation by TWSITD.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Her name is German for "Noble Protector". Fitting for someone who will one day lead Adrestia as its Emperor.
    • Her last name, von Hresvelg, comes from Hresvelgr of Norse Mythology. Fittingly, Hresvelgr was a giant (drawing comparisons to her Hegemon form on Azure Moon), who could shapeshift, often taking the form of a Black Eagle.
    • Her axe Aymr is named for the club wielded by the Ugaritic deity Ba'al, whose name means "Lord" or "Owner". Fitting for a weapon wielded by an Emperor.
  • Metaphorical Marriage: In the English version, if she achieves an S rank with Byleth, Edelgard doesn’t seem to be publicly married to Byleth, despite being lovers; that said, it’s noted that Edelgard and Byleth could be seen leaving the palace together, presumably to spend intimate time together. Averted in the Japanese version, in which it explicitly states that they are married and share many romantic moments.
  • Mighty Glacier: Not so much in the beginning, but her post-timeskip Armored Lord class gives her a hefty increase to her Defense (not to mention an increase to her Defense growth itself), meaning she'll be significantly more durable. However, her unique classes give no bonuses to her speed growth, meaning that unless lucky beforehand, she'll be the slowest of the three Lords.
  • Missing Steps Plan: In their A-support, Ferdinand has to explain to Edelgard that for her idea of meritocracy to truly become real and to have something to replace the nobility system, there should be free education for the masses. Edelgard's reaction reveals that she didn't think of this matter at all.
  • Morality Chain: To Jeritza. She's the only thing keeping his psychotic Death Knight persona in check.
  • A Mother to Her Men:
    • Despite her cold and strict exterior, she treats her housemates (and future subordinates) warmly and looks out for their well-being, helping Bernadetta with her anxiety, wondering if Hubert would have been happier outside of her service, and taking special care of Lysithea. Before declaring war on all of Fódlan, she asks them if they're still willing to follow her to make sure she isn't dragging them into a situation they'll regret. Even in the Silver Snow route, Seteth of all people admits that this is the case after witnessing how committed the Imperial forces are to her.
    • In Jeritza's supports with Byleth, he reveals Edelgard rescued and adopted him after he killed his father and house Bartels, and Edelgard even forged a new identity for him as the heir of house Hyrm instead of keeping him as an elite mook. Due to this, she gave him a way to target foes so his Death Knight personality wouldn't kill innocents wantonly. For this reason, Jeritza is extremely loyal to her, and is willing to stay with the Empire even if it brings him into conflict with Mercedes.
  • Motive Decay: Discussed in her B support with Byleth once they have joined her side after Chapter 11. Edelgard fears that without their support, she could have — in her own words — lost perspective and become a harsh leader with a heart of ice. Considering in the other routes where she’s the enemy, her stance towards religion becomes harsher to the point of prosecuting believers of the Seiros faith, keeps relying on her more morally bankrupt allies and in the resources of “those who slither in the dark”, strips Ferdinand’s family of all their titles despite her vendetta being only with Duke Aegir himself, keeps committing multiple questionable acts such as not evacuating her people once the enemy army arrives right at her door and, on the Azure Moon route, even betrays her own beliefs about the supposed inhuman nature of the Children of the Goddess in order to become Hegemon Edelgard when pushed to the brink, it would be hard to argue her fears aren't unfounded.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Despite her waifish physique, Edelgard is a physical powerhouse who swings and twirls battleaxes around one-handed. She has the highest base Strength among the entire playable cast (tied with Byleth), the second highest base HP (behind Dedue and Raphael), and the second highest Strength growth and cap (behind Dimitri). She also manages to hold back Byleth's Sword of the Creator with just a rapier after the timeskip, despite the significant difference in size between their two swords and Byleth's larger stature. This is due to the experiments performed on her to give her the Crest of Flames, making her much stronger than a normal human.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members:
    • She obviously cannot be poached from the Black Eagles, and will never fight directly alongside Dedue (under any circumstances), Hilda (outside of "Cindered Shadows"), Gilbert (outside of Chapter 5), or Dimitri and Claude (outside of the tutorial battle and "Cindered Shadows").
    • She and most of the Church of Seiros characters are mutually exclusive; either Flayn or Edelgard will leave the party after the Holy Tomb, and Catherine, Seteth, and Cyril cannot be recruited while Edelgard is in the party (although Catherine and Seteth can both be temporarily controlled during their respective paralogues).
  • My Beloved Smother: Linhardt compares Edelgard to a mother that insists on accompanying her son to his knighting ceremony when she keeps trying to rouse him into activity in their B-Support conversation, much to her shock.
  • Mystical White Hair: Her hair is an unusual pearly white and she's unusually strong for her size. It's a side effect of the experiments done on her to give her the Crest of Flames.
  • Nay-Theist: Zigzagged. Edelgard is well aware of the goddess's existence, but simply doesn't believe that people need to blindly follow the goddess and should take charge of their own lives. That being said, she doesn't mind if people continue their faith in the goddess, and makes it clear that she's an enemy of the church and not the faith. She's also not above trying to understand the perspective of those who put their faith in the goddess. Naturally, in her route, recruited characters of devout faith like Marianne and Mercedes are willing to follow her cause, as they appreciate being able to continue their faith and respect Edelgard's ambition to take down the corrupt church system.
  • Never My Fault: The core breakdown of the disintegration of her relationship with Dimitri is the latter's belief that Edelgard is responsible for the Tragedy of Duscur. Edelgard simply blows off these accusations since she did not have anything to do with it. Despite that, she has no qualms allying with those who were responsible for the Tragedy despite plotting to get rid of them once the war is over.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Edelgard ends up being the source of an interesting variant of this as for much of the pre-release marketing Edelgard was the central figure focused on leading up to the release. Based on the original marketing of the game note  one would not be faulted for assuming that Edelgard was going to be the defacto main Lord of the game. So it came to the surprise of many that it was actually something of a bait-and-switch, with Edelgard being the primary antagonist of 3 of the 4 routes; the Final Boss in Azure Moon and the Climax Boss in Silver Snow & Verdant Wind. To drive it home further, her own route was even meant to originally be a secret one that was difficult to trigger.
  • Noble Bigot: On the Crimson Flower route. There, her goal to put Fódlan's fate back in the hands of humanity from the influence of Rhea and the Church is emphasized more. Whether or not that's a good thing is hazy, given the nature of the game, but at the least the goal is noble. She is contrasted by Arundel who takes sadistic joy in Seiros's impending death, while Edelgard merely views it as something that must be done, takes no personal pleasure in it and refutes Arundel's suggestion to use the Empire as a vehicle for human supremacy.
  • Noble Demon: On all non-Crimson Flower routes, even though she's clearly an antagonist, Edelgard remains respectful to her opponents, sympathizes with why they're opposing her, and loathes the more treacherous, underhanded tactics adopted by "those who slither in the dark" even if she is allied with them. The only exceptions to this are her potentially killing Bernadetta by setting her fort ablaze in the Battle of Gronder Field, and knowingly forsaking her humanity at the end of Azure Moon in her desperation to win, then stabbing Dimitri with a dagger even as he's offering her mercy and forcing him to kill her.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: She's the only person in the school who wears shorts rather than trousers or a skirt, her tights aren't blue, and she has a unique ribbon arrangement on her chest.
  • Not Me This Time:
    • Dimitri's hatred of her when he realizes she's the Flame Emperor is founded in the belief that she's an ally of the people who committed the Tragedy of Duscur. She is, but her alliance was Teeth-Clenched Teamwork at best and was long after the Tragedy happened; she was only a young child at the time, after all. While she does say she had nothing to do with the tragedy, she doesn't bother explaining this to him, because she recognizes that he's Ax-Crazy and won't listen, and she has her own problems with communicating with those who don't share her ideals until it's too late.
    • On the flipside, during her speech on non-Crimson Flower routes, Edelgard claims that the Church split the Empire into the Kingdom and Alliance, when notes of dubious validity from the Abyss library reveal that the Church suspected that Loog's mysterious allies and the forgery of the will that led to the creation of the Alliance, were in fact the result of Agarthan manipulation.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • She's so serious that oftentimes even her fellow Black Eagles express surprise when she shows vulnerabilities or more casual interests. Bernadetta, for example, is legitimately surprised to learn that Edelgard can't swim and has a fear of the ocean.
    • She mocks both Hubert and Ferdinand by copying their voices, and in the latter's case, it's right to his face.
  • Not So Different:
    • One of the few supports she has with a character outside of her own household is Lysithea. This might seem odd at first, considering the Empire's role in her backstory, but it turns out that the two actually share a lot in common, with them both being victims of the horrific Crest experiments, and losing their siblings to gain a second Crest they did not want. On Verdant Wind, Lysithea will speak to her if they end up fighting and take it upon herself to kill Thales in Edelgard's place.
    • Edelgard is similar to her sworn enemy Seiros. Both were Nice Girls who had horrible tragedies occur when they were young (the Red Canyon and Crest experimentation), and developed obsessions with destroying what had wronged them (King Nemesis and the system of nobility/Church of Seiros, respectively). Both have severe trust issues and often find it difficult to admit fault, communicate, or compromise at all. Both ultimately are willing to go to almost any extreme to see their goals (the revival of Sothis in Seiros' case, the reformation of Fódlan by her hand in Edelgard's case), and most ironically, both have Byleth as their Morality Chain, and both represent the Reverse High Priestess; otherwise, Rhea acts more like a foil to Edelgard, showing their contrasting desires and ideals despite having similar experiences. In a darker & tragic sense, should Edelgard emerge as the victor of the conflict while she ultimately achieves peace, she still does so through propogating a false (or to be more precise in Edelgard's case, incomplete) version of history just like Rhea did before her.
    • When breaking it down to the basics, despite their contrasting political ideas, both Dimitri and Edelgard are willing to inflict significant harm on the living out of a sense of responsibility towards people who are already dead.
  • Not So Stoic: Despite her cold and serious-minded demeanor, she does break her stoicism several times in Crimson Flower route thanks to Character Development, such as her reunion with Byleth in post-time skip.
  • Odango Hair: Post-timeskip Edelgard sports the "Princess Leia" version of this hairstyle and adorns her buns with horns.
  • One-Handed Zweihänder: Carries and swings her axe around in one hand.
  • One-Winged Angel: In the final battle of the Azure Moon route, she turns into Hegemon Edelgard as part of her final attempt to take down both Byleth and Dimitri.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Oddly enough, on the Silver Snow route. Despite being the Deuteragonist of Part I, by the time Byleth becomes the main lord and both them and Edelgard part ways, she makes no physical appearances for most of the route sans for the beginning and near the end of it.
    • She is even worse off on the Verdant Wind route, as unlike Silver Snow, since Byleth and the player are far more involved with Claude and his desires, the former attachment that forms some of Snow's conflict is absent - indeed, aside from the Flame Emperor reveal, Claude and Edelgard's one unique interaction in Part I involves her bluntly demanding to know where he came from, which sours his opinion of her considerablynote . Her first Part II appearance on Verdant Wind isn't until the second battle at Grondor Field, and even when Claude's army is aiming for Enbarr, his main goal of seeking Rhea and Fódlan's lost history ultimately takes precedence over Edelgard in terms of importance.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Her C support reveals she suffers from nightmares of her siblings' madness and death. Specifically, what they were forced to endure in the experiments that left Edelgard the only survivor and implanted with the Crest of Flames.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: One of her life goals is to wipe out "those who slither in the dark", who put her and her siblings through horrific experimentation to implant her with the power of the Crest of Flames. In the post-game of Crimson Flower, she succeeds.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Pre-timeskip, she stands at 158cm (about 5'2"), tying with Caspar as the second-shortest student in the Black Eagles, only being taller than Bernadetta. Post-timeskip, she's still the same height, whereas everyone either stayed the same height or grew. This doesn't stop her from wielding weapons likes axes with just one hand.
  • Plagued by Nightmares: The first time she opens up to Byleth is when they wake her up from a nightmare while making the nightly rounds at the campus. She then reveals it was about the time when she and her siblings were vivisected in an attempt to give them a second Crest — she was the only success, while all her brothers and sisters died in front of her eyes. She has been reliving this trauma regularly in her dreams ever since.
  • Playing with Fire: She can learn Fire and Bolganone upon specializing in Reason.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: At the end of her route after killing Rhea, Byleth seemingly collapses. Worried that slaying the Immaculate One might've had adverse effects on them, Edelgard tries to check for a heartbeat, only to find none because of Byleth never having a heartbeat. She immediately assumes the worst and breaks down into tears, invoking this reaction, before the Crest Stone in Byleth's heart dissolves and their heart makes its first beats, turning her tears of mourning into joy upon discovering the heartbeats.
  • Poor Communication Kills: As a consequence of her trust issues and feeling she needs to do everything herself, Edelgard ends up hiding everything from the people around her, to the point where she will do morally questionable actions to achieve her vision. Unfortunately, this also means she doesn't explain her motives or reasons behind her actions, and she ends up becoming an antagonist in three of the four routes because no one understands what factors are motivating her.

    Even over five years of war in the non-Crimson Flower routes, it's heavily implied Edelgard never tells her enemies anything about her goals in the war and the good she seeks to accomplish, leaving them in the dark as to why she is trying to conquer them and drastically reducing any possibility of peaceful resolutions to things. Claude is able to reason out that she wants something similar to his own goals but with a much higher body count, while on Azure Moon Dimitri has to arrange a meeting and directly ask her why she started the war to begin with (and even then she is rather vague in her answers). On Silver Snow it's a point of conversation multiple times that Seteth and Flayn have little idea why Edelgard started the war or what she specifically hopes to accomplish, though Seteth remarks that he has been able to theorize she wants to remake the social order in some way. Just how in the dark they are is further illustrated when after conquering the Great Bridge, Seteth is surprised to realize that Edelgard did not hold her soldiers in a vice grip of a cruel emperor but that they were driven by "something else."
  • Power Echoes: On the Azure Moon route, her voice gains a noticeable distortion effect after her transformation into Hegemon Edelgard.
  • Power-Upgrading Deformation: Hegemon Edelgard's body takes on a grotesque humanoid, dragon-like appearance. She also has glowing red eyes, black sclera, and prominent veins around her eyes. Once she's beaten, the husk dissipates off her body, turning her back to normal, but weakened by the process.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    "I will prevail!" (Pre-timeskip)
    "For the Empire!" (Post-timeskip)
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • Academy Phase:
      "I'll strike you down!" (Also used Post-timeskip)
      "I will prevail!"
      "Don't waste my time!"
      "Watch this!"
    • War Phase:
      "You can't stop me!"
      "This battle is your last!"
      "No mercy!"
    • Hegemon Edelgard:
      "Perish!"
      "Crumble to ash!"
      "I am absolute!"
      "Face your mortality!"
  • Precision F-Strike: In the introduction to the final battle on Crimson Flower, she asks "What the hell are they planning..." when the remaining Church and Kingdom forces refuse to surrender. After seeing Fhirdiad set ablaze, she says "What?! Damn it, Rhea."
  • Pretext for War: While ending Rhea's control over Fódlan and destroying the current nobility system is her main reason for going to war, she also demonstrates revanchist leanings in wanting to conquer the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus and the Leicester Alliance, holding the church responsible for splitting those territories from the Empire in the first place.
  • Pride: A Fatal Flaw of hers. Edelgard admits that some see her as arrogant, but she personally thinks she's just the one best suited to doing what must be done. This is one of the factors that causes her to start a war, as she believes she's the only one capable of reforming Fódlan and that violence is the only answer. Because of this, she refuses to work with anyone who does not share her methodology, which puts her at odds with Dimitri, Claude, and potentially Byleth. She also does not question whether her understanding of history might be wrong or distorted and takes what she knows as fact, whereas Claude actively seeks out information.
  • Promoted to Playable: The Emperor class has been previously reserved for, well... The Emperor. Hardin and Arvis, specifically. Three Houses is the first game to make it available to the player as Edelgard's final story promotion, which occurs late in the Crimson Flower route.
  • Properly Paranoid: Edelgard is convinced that Rhea and her people have manipulated and subjugated the humans of Fódlan. The trouble is that, depending on how one looks at it, she's not entirely wrong: Rhea has been trying to revive Sothis while limiting/slowing technological progress in Fódlan, and her bloody history with technologically-boosted humans definitely means she has the motive to not trust them with ruling the continent on their own. The sticking points include that Edelgard (or anyone not named Byleth, for that matter) couldn't possibly know that Sothis would not necessarily go along with it, and that her beliefs about what Rhea has done to Fódlan include a number of things Rhea is innocent of, while most of the things Rhea has done were not for the purpose of subjugation or to claim power but rather out of the desire to keep the peace.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: In all routes but her own, she becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist Anti-Villain driven by her desperate desire to protect the world from the Church of Seiros. On the Crimson Flower route, she errs more on the side of an Anti-Hero rather than Anti-Villain, and is willing to see past her Knight Templar creed. In her own route, this is emphasized further by showcasing her refusal to embrace "those who slither in the dark"'s methods/resources, even if doing so puts her at a disadvantage in terms of military might.
  • Protagonist Powerup Privileges: Only Edelgard can access the Armored Lord and Emperor classes.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Though evil is stretching it, she's this to Byleth in all routes outside Crimson Flower as Edelgard becomes a ruthless conqueror hellbent on taking down the church and reuniting Fódlan through any means necessary. It's far more apparent with Silver Snow path, as it's only accessible through Byleth choosing to side against Edelgard after choosing the Black Eagles as their house to teach. This can be averted in the aforementioned Crimson Flower path, as siding with Edelgard leads to her becoming more reasonable and less extreme in her methods.
  • Puppy Love: Dialogue reveals she had such feelings as a child towards Dimitri when she lived with him. However, they both grew apart after she left the Holy Kingdom with her uncle.
  • Quit Your Whining: While more sympathetic than most examples, she helps Byleth cope with Jeralt's death by bluntly telling them that wallowing in their misery isn't helpful, and that she's moving forward with or without you. Sothis is amused by the sheer arrogance of her statements, though admits she's correct.

    R — Z 
  • Recurring Boss: If you don't count paralogues, she is currently tied for the record for most appearances in one game as an enemy, with 6 on the Azure Moon and Verdant Wind routes; you fight her in chapters 1, 7, 11, 12, and 17 on both routes, as well as either 22 on Azure Moon or 20 on Verdant Wind.
  • Recurring Element:
    • On the Crimson Flower route, she is the forceful lord willing to use military force to solve her problems in the vein of Alm, Sigurd, and Hector.
    • On all routes other than Crimson Flower, she is the Tin Tyrant evil emperor seeking to conquer the world through military force, in the vein of Rudolf, Hardin, and Ashnard.
  • Redemption Demotion: Ultimately downplayed on the Black Eagles route should Byleth join her side. While Edelgard does lose access to the Commander and Counterattack skills she had as a boss, after rejoining the party, she comes with the Supreme Armored Co. battalion equipped, which is a better version of the one she previously used as a boss (Flame Emperor Co.). Likewise, growths and stats-wise, the Flame Emperor class is essentially a Palette Swap of the Armored Lord class, which she obtains from the get-go after the timeskip.
  • Redemption Rejection: Happens on two routes, and it's implied that she does this because she believes she has fallen too far, and her survival would cause too many complications for the victor.
    • On the Azure Moon route, Dimitri offers her mercy and forgiveness after defeating her. In return, she offers him a dagger in the shoulder. He kills her with his spear, and she dies with a smile.
    • On the Verdant Wind route, if you bring her down to low health without defeating her, Claude will beg her to stop fighting because he doesn't want to kill her. She refuses. She then requests that Byleth kill her.
  • Red Baron: After the timeskip, Edelgard's also known as the "Flame Emperor", the same moniker her alter ego used. Claude refers to her as such once on the Verdant Wind route, and both her character ending card, one of the game's cutscenes and even her Legendary variant from Heroes use it.
  • Red Herring: There are a few warning signs she might be the Flame Emperor on her route; she is conspicuously nowhere to be found the first two times the Flame Emperor confronts you in person, she's open to the idea of Byleth allying with the Flame Emperor as long as the latter is willing to reveal their identity and goals, and she is seen hanging out with a woman who's revealed later to be working with said Flame Emperor. Then she reveals to Byleth and her classmates that she's actually the Flame Emperor, and that idea quickly becomes a reality.
  • Red Is Heroic: Downplayed. She wants to achieve world peace and bring harmony to Fódlan, but she's also willing to steel her heart and trample upon others to achieve it, though it is possible to minimize that aspect of hers should you side with her.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Despite working with Those Who Slither In The Dark on paper, she kills three of them on-screen before officially declaring war on them after the game. Admittedly, the last of these costs her when Those Who Slither take retribution.
  • Regretful Traitor: In the Black Eagles route, she's openly regretful of turning on Byleth in Chapter 11 by raiding the Holy Tomb, all-but-outright stating that she does not expect to be forgiven for what she's doing.
    "Professor... I will make no excuses. Thank you for all that you did for me. In truth...no. Let's leave it at that."
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Her last name comes from Hræsvelgr, a giant from Norse Mythology who can take the form of a black eagle. Fitting considering the name of the house she leads.
  • Removed Achilles' Heel: During the Battle at Gronder on the Azure Moon and Verdant Wind routes, as well in the siege of the Imperial Palace on the Verdant Wind and Silver Snow paths, she has the Armored Effect Null skill, which removes the weakness her Armored Lord and Emperor classes normally have against anti-armor weaponry.
  • Rescue Romance: Really only evident in her route where they S support, but she definitely takes a interest in Byleth after they rescue her at the beginning. Even without S-ranking her, she is still embarrassed around Byleth, draws pictures of them, and gets flustered because Caspar told Byleth how lonely she was without them.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: She's very much correct in pointing out that the Church of Seiros is corrupt, has been stagnating Fódlan with the usage of the Crests, and has been concealing the true history of the conflict between Seiros and Nemesis. However, she also lacks key context on several points due to the fact that the history passed down by the Adestrian emperors, while closer to the truth, is still not the full story and has several falsehoods in it too, namely that Seiros inspired/organized the existing opposition to Nemesis' takeover of Fódlan in part to take very justifiable revenge on him, not due to some simple disagreement over what type of being should rule (though even that is of no fault of Edelgard's own, as the only ones who know the full scope in the present are Rhea, the other Saints, and "those who slither in the dark", all of whom have kept it secret for their own reasons). Granted, developer interviews reveal some truth to this as Seiros and Nemesis's conflict was also partly influenced by power over Fódlan, as Nemesis was considered a hero by the people, and the Nabateans did rule over humanity in the past, and Seiros did take power despite her primary motivation being peace. From this, Edelgard's and Seiros's versions of history are two pieces of a whole rather than either one being the absolute truth.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: An imperial princess who will become the next Emperor of the Adrestian Empire. She's been enrolled into the Officers Academy to learn everything she needs to learn to effectively rule her empire.
  • Royalty Super Power: As the imperial princess of the Adestrian Empire, she bears the Minor Crest of the Divine Seiros, which can occasionally boost her might while using combat arts.
  • Sand In My Eyes: It's left ambiguous due to how quickly she is to recompose herself but on the Crimson Flower route she does not handle killing Dimitri very well. When Byleth asks if they were crying, Edelgard quickly denies it. The fact that the scene takes place in the rain implies that the rain was able to hide Edelgard's mask briefly cracking.
  • Satanic Archetype: A charismatic and confident leader clad in red who has a natural talent for fire and dark magic and, post-timeskip, wears a crown that evokes the imagery of satanic horns. One of her primary goals is to dismantle the Church as a power and she starts a war with the rest of the continent partly to achieve this. Furthermore, provided that nobody is recruited from the Black Eagle Housenote , when she raises her arms against the Church, after the timeskip, one-third of Garreg Mach's student body follows her (echoing Revelation 12:4). She even carries the Crest of Seiros, making her something akin to family of the Goddess. On the Azure Moon route, she starts directly assaulting the Church of Seiros as a faith before transforming herself into a literal demonic monster. On the Crimson Flower route, she is an Anti-Hero who qualifies for Satanic Archetype Is Good.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: She has the General, Commander, and Counterattack skills when fought as an enemy, which she cannot obtain under your command.
  • Secret Art:
    • Raging Storm is Aymr's combat art, which can only be used by Edelgard. It deals 14 extra damage and increases hit by 10, with the effect of refreshing her turn upon landing the hit and deals effective damage against dragons.
    • She can obtain Flickering Flower from mastering Emperor, which deals 10 extra damage, increases hit and critical by 10, and has the effect of preventing an enemy from moving. This is exclusive to the Emperor class.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Believes that Byleth won't side with her against the Church of Seiros. Ultimately, her refusal to explain her motivations for the unprovoked attack on the Holy Tomb massively contribute to them becoming enemies later on. This can be averted if Byleth attends her coronation and you choose to protect her from execution.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Should Edelgard confront Rhea as the Immaculate One at the end of her route, she will claim she never believed nor trusted in her and the Children of the Goddess from the beginning. However and as shown above, if her parley with Dimitri at the end of Azure Moon is any indication, there is the likehood this wasn't always the case.
  • Series Mascot: Played With. Up until around the release of the game, Edelgard was without doubt the face of Three Houses, being the one most heavily featured in advertisements and previews. Even in the game itself, she features heavily in tutorial images placed for loading screens and such. However, post-release, other characters (in particular Sothis) came to often claim prominence in marketing. Edelgard remained important, but more equal to the game's other lord characters. Despite this, she is the only character to get an officially licensed Figma figure.
  • Shadow Archetype: To Dimitri on the Azure Moon route. Both of them are individuals who faced tragedy in their lives (Tragedy of Duscur for Dimitri and the Crest experiments for Edelgard), both swear to make those who made them suffer pay and avenge those who were taken from them, and both are willing to go to extreme lengths to make that happen, though in quite different ways; Dimitri seeks direct retaliation against those who committed such unjust atrocities to those he cared for, while Edelgard decided to focus on finding a way to diminish the influence of her enemies and transform the world, at any cost. In the end of Azure Moon, while Dimitri eventually turns away from his blind obsession for revenge, Edelgard eventually dies because of her ideals born from these events.
  • She Is the King: She is referred to as the future emperor of Adrestia.
  • Shutting Up Now: If Byleth sides with her in the Holy Tomb, Edelgard is shocked and starts to question if Byleth is certain, but quickly shuts herself up as it is a bad time to question the help.
  • Sinister Scythe: Her signature Axe, Aymr is jointed to open up into a scythe.
  • Sole Survivor: Twofold:
    • Out of all eleven of her siblings, she's the only one who survived the Agarthans' Crest experiments both alive and mentally intact, as all of the others either died or went insane.
    • If the player opts to kill Claude on the Crimson Flower route, she's the only faction leader to survive to the end, as killing Dimitri and Rhea (the latter being Crimson Flower's Final Boss) isn't optional.
  • The Spock: Deconstructed. Of the three lords, she is convinced that she is the most logical and rational. She puts more emphasis on her own objectives and goals over forming bonds with others and analyzing the situation before acting. She even goes to the extent of suppressing her own emotions after killing Dimitri with her own hands. The problem is that she does this to the point where she can't see anything else outside of her one goal which makes it impossible to negotiate with her or allow herself to realize she's playing into the hands of "those who slither in the dark". She is also incapable of seeing Rhea as a human or what drives her, which inadvertently breaks the only bridge that would let her learn the truth of Fódlan's history, as Rhea is the only person available who possesses such knowledge.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Behaves this way pre-Time Skip in her own route regardless of Byleth's gender. Her infatuation for Byleth serves to humanize her and if you side with/S-Support her, it morphs into a more matured, adult love with time.
  • Stealth Insult:
    • She has a habit of speaking passive aggressively during White Clouds, hiding insults behind her words and even passing it off as jokes. Notably if Byleth shows interest in Adrestia, she admits to seeing the Alliance and the Holy Kingdom as mere offshoots of the empire, dismissing them as nations with their own autonomy. This also serves as subtle foreshadowing that Edelgard believes the Church is the reason why the Empire was split into the current three nations in the first place; in her mind, they should still be part of the Empire, not individual nations.
    • In the tapestry of her ending, she is shown desecrating the flag of the Leicester Alliance, stepping upon it as she stands triumphant, hinting at Edelgard's dislike for the nations she conquered.
  • Suicide by Cop: One possible interpretation of her death in Azure Moon; she attacks Dimitri nonlethally and gets run through by his spear.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy:
    • One of the main factors motivating her unflinching attitude towards her goal is that she feels a desperate desire to make the deaths of her family and the innocents caught in her crusade against the church and the crest system mean something in the end. Failing to do so in non-Crimson Flower routes plays a huge part in her eventual death.
    • Being the one to actually instigate the war, Edelgard remains steadfast that she and only she can serve as Fódlan's sole ruler, even if the route the player chooses make it apparent that Edelgard is on the losing side. In other routes, Rhea willingly steps aside to name Byleth the new archbishop of the Church to reform it, and Claude is willing to abdicate the leadership of Fódlan to Dimitri and Byleth in the Azure Moon and Verdant Wind routes respectively if it means a quicker end to the bloodshed.
  • Super Drowning Skills: In her C support with Bernadetta, Edelgard admits she's deathly afraid of the sea and cannot swim.
  • Superior Successor:
    • Is this to her father, Ionius IX, as Emperor of Adrestia. Unlike her father's status as a puppet for corrupt nobles after his failed attempt at centralizing power resulted in a coup and rebellion, Edelgard's ascension to the throne and reign as Emperor is much more successful (ironically, creating a superior emperor to Ionius was the plan of said corrupt nobles to begin with). In all routes, Edelgard does succeed in purging the Empire of corrupt nobles, by either arresting them or gaining their loyalty, and Hubert putting down those who resist. On the Crimson Flower route, she accomplishes all of her life goals; she conquers both the Alliance and Kingdom in the process of removing the Church from power, bringing the entire continent under the control of the Adrestian Empire once more, and establishes reforms across the continent that lead to a new golden age for Fódlan.
    • Subverted with those who slither in the dark's goal of making her the second coming of Nemesis. Despite having access to the Crest of Seiros along with the Crest of Flames, Edelgard is much weaker than him, and even attempting to awaken the full power of the Crests as Hegemon Edelgard gives her little advantage. In comparison, Nemesis himself ends up being the most powerful of the four routes' Final Bosses upon his revival in terms of raw stats. And double-subverted in Crimson Flower, where she succeeds in killing Seiros where he failed, avoids being a pawn for the Agarthans by destroying them afterwards, and continues to rule after the war with her own allies.
  • Super Soldier: She is the end product of "those who slither in the dark"'s experimentation to implant someone with the Crest of Flames and create a warrior powerful enough to destroy the Nabateans. Unfortunately, all of her siblings were killed in the process of making her what she is today, and her lifespan has been drastically shortened by what they did to her.
  • Survivor Guilt: A big part of her Knight Templar tendencies stem from her inability to come to terms with the fact that she's the Sole Survivor of her eleven siblings. The guilt and feeling like she needs to make sure their deaths weren't just a waste drive her to the extremes that ultimately consume her in the other routes save her own, where only Byleth being her Morality Chain makes her able to have friends.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Arvis. Both Arvis and Edelgard have massive ambitions to bring long-lasting peace to the continent and free it from suffering and oppression, have Teeth-Clenched Teamwork with a shadowy cult with a more malicious agenda, and ultimately kill a lord in the process of achieving these ambitions. They also spend the first half of the game as an ally (Edelgard especially if you are on the Crimson Flower route), and the first half of the game ends with them betraying the main character to further their ambitions and goals. Both Arvis and Silver Snow/Verdant Wind Edelgard spend the second half of the game as an antagonist, but are overshadowed as a threat by said malicious cult. Finally, both Edelgard (on Crimson Flower) and Arvis (for the first several years of his reign) bring about a better era for their continents.
  • Sweet Tooth: One of her supports with Byleth has her admitting that if not for her work, she'd likely spend the day doing nothing and simply gorging on sweets. This is also shown in her supports with Lysithea, where they both have a deep appreciation for cake. One of her questions in the advice box, of course, mentions cakes.
  • Take Over the World:
    • On the Azure Moon route, ultimately played straight. After transforming into Hegemon Edelgard, she openly declares that "there can only be one ruler of the world".
    • On the Crimson Flower route, defied. Lord Arundel suggests that the Empire could have a go at world conquest after killing Rhea, but Edelgard makes it clear her ambitions only stretch as far as the continent of Fódlan.
  • Tarot Motifs:
    • Edelgard shares traits with the Reversed High Priestess represented in her Minor Crest of Seiros, which often symbolizes secrets and lack of personal harmony. If the Black Eagles are chosen, putting emphasis on her own goals over forming bonds with others can potentially alienate her from Byleth and the rest of the Black Eagles (sans Hubert). When the Black Eagles are not chosen, this leads to the rest of the students from other houses feeling betrayed due to her actions. Secrets are also referenced by the fact that she is secretly the Flame Emperor who has been staging the many attacks happening throughout Part I and has been planning to start a war against the church, which leads to Edelgard potentially alienating all of her classmates.
    • Through the implanted Major Crest of Flames, Edelgard also represents the Upright and Reversed World Arcana, which can represent "completion of long term aspiration" and "the easiest/quickest path to one's goal". Edelgard's conquest is ultimately to change the system for the better with equality for all, but also to find closure for herself so that the death of her siblings, the innocents caught in her goal, and later, her father, can mean something in the long run. The former meaning is reflected in her result in the Crimson Flower route, where she succeeds in achieving her dream of a meritocracy without crests and the church. The latter meaning is shown by the fact that Edelgard's deaths on the non-Crimson Flower routes show that by taking the fastest way to achieve her goals, she refuses to face her failures and cut her own losses properly, leading to her own demise.
  • Tautological Templar: Without Byleth's influence, this is what Edelgard can become at her worst. Because of her firm belief that she must destroy the Crest and nobility system, she views herself as righteous. Therefore, she believes that anything she does, no matter how evil, hypocritical, or bloody, is justified by default.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • With "those who slither in the dark", only putting up with them because she needs their power to fulfill her ambitions at the moment… which shows how desperate she is, considering their role in her backstory. She does away with them as soon as she can at the end of her route.
    • Early on in her own route, she tells Hubert that she can't achieve her goals alone, which is why she is forced to use the power of "those people", and it would be best if Byleth could use the Sword of the Creator in her stead. The implications foreshadow the biggest divergence between her route and the others; with Byleth at her side, she doesn't even consider making use of their power in her armies, while in the others, she feels forced to use them and their monsters.
  • That Woman Is Dead: Edelgard considers who she was before she was experimented on to be basically another life/person, in part due to how clouded her memories of that time are, and to how different her morals and ethics became after it. Described quite explicitly on Azure Moon and Crimson Flower:
    Edelgard: [on Azure Moon] That girl you knew back then is gone. As good as dead.
    Edelgard: [on Crimson Flower] The Edelgard who shed tears died many years ago.
  • Theory Tunnelvision: Once Edelgard believes in something, she will not change her mind, regardless of the evidence. For example, when Arundel/Thales accidentally calls Nemesis a thief to her face, she brushes it off and never questions it in spite of going against all written records of who Nemesis was. She's convinced she is the only one capable of "saving" Fódlan from the Crest system, in spite of many students in-universe (who are future heirs of their respective noble houses) complaining and noting they wish to change it in the future. The only thing that can really do so is if otherwise-irrefutable evidence is presented; a key example is that even when Byleth is her professor, she doesn't believe they would agree with what she's done or her vision for the future, in particular after she's been exposed as the Flame Emperor. If Byleth does side with her, she's genuinely shocked by their action, although she does shift gears quickly and thanks them for it.
  • Tights Under Shorts: As a student, she wears bright red tights and shorts as part of her Non-Uniform Uniform, giving her an air of elegance and authority.
  • Tough Love: In stark contrast to Dimitri and Claude Edelgard's pep talk to snap Byleth out of their sorrow from mourning Jeralt's death is to tell them to get over it and to stop trying to get people to feel sorry for them.
  • Tragic Hero: On all routes other than Crimson Flower. She genuinely means well and wants to fix Fódlan's issues, but because of your opposition to her and her inability to trust in others, she has to be killed. However, her actions undoubtedly help change Fódlan for the better, even if they are not her ideal form of change.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: It's heavily implied the experiments that took place beneath the Imperial Palace blurred out her memories of Dimitri. Edelgard can't specifically recall during her Goddess Tower scene it was him with whom she spent time with during her time in Fhirdiad, always treats him like a complete stranger the few times they interact before the timeskip, tells Byleth in her A-Support there's no one alive besides them who can call her "El", and openly asks him in Cindered Shadows if they have met before the monastery as he's aware her hair color wasn't always white.
  • Trying Not to Cry: After killing Dimitri, she hides her face with her hand. When Byleth asks if she's crying, Edelgard says that the Edelgard who shed tears died long ago. This doesn’t stop her from breaking down when she believes that Byleth had died after killing Rhea. Her tears quickly turn to tears of joy when Byleth’s heart begins to beat.
  • Turns Red: On the Azure Moon route as Hegemon Edelgard, she has access to the abilities Vantage, Desperation and Wrath, all which trigger once her health is at half.
  • The Unfettered: She doesn't have any qualms about performing morally questionable actions to accomplish her goals, as arranging the bandit attack in the prologue is any indication. This trait is what leads to Byleth going against her in the Silver Snow route, being unable to continue supporting her knowing this. On the other hand, on the Crimson Flower route, with Byleth defying all of her expectations to walk by her side and fully becoming her Morality Chain, she becomes noticeably more restrained in her actions. Her endings with Bernadetta or Caspar likewise depict them as serving as other Morality Chains when she is becoming too detached/ruthless as emperor, ensuring she doesn't end up falling back into this mindset.
  • Unknown Rival: After the timeskip in all routes, Dimitri attributes the Tragedy of Duscur to Edelgard and considers her death to be his ultimate goal. Edelgard, however, sees Dimitri as merely a strong foe that she must kill in order to unite the land, not even taking the time to explain how misguided he is under the belief he simply doesn't care.
  • Unreliable Narrator:
    • Though not by her own volition. If you play her route after completing the Verdant Wind route, it becomes obvious that her conceptions and explanations of Fódlan's history and the state of the world, originally provided by the first adrestian emperor which has been passed down by generations to descendants of his bloodline, are missing crucial details. While she's correct that Seiros has distorted history and that a family of non-humans has secretly played a major role in leading the world for a thousand years, she, among other things, believes Seiros killed Nemesis in order to impose her kin's supremacy over humans. In reality, Seiros did so to avenge her entire race, which was genocided by Nemesis and his allies with the help of “those who slither in the dark”. She also views the Relic weapons as proof of human prowess, unaware that they were crafted from the mutilated remains of the genocided Nabateans. Lastly, in their final confrontation, she decides that Rhea's actions prove her species (or at least Rhea) have no regard for human lives, when in reality, Rhea has gone completely insane and little is left of her compassionate self.
    • She is this in-universe at one point. After Arundel/Thales blows up Arianrhod using "those who slither in the dark's" missiles, she is instead quick to make an official announcement that it was all the Church's fault instead. She justifies this to Hubert and Byleth by saying that they can't afford to divide their forces' attention at the moment with the revelation of "those who slither in the dark"'s existence when the final confrontation with Dimitri and Rhea is imminent, deciding that it's best to settle the score with them once the war is over (which is exactly what they end up doing).
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: On the Azure Moon and Verdant Wind routes, she wields Seiros' Sword alongside her relic during the Second Battle at Gronder Field, which normally can't be obtained nor wielded by any playable character.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Played with. Edelgard is fully aware of those who slither in the dark's ulterior motives behind helping her and her co-operation with them is Teeth-Clenched Teamwork at best, and she ultimately ends up betraying them after the end of Crimson Flower. Though she does seem aware that she is fulfilling part of their goals, such as dethroning Seiros and dismantling the Church, removing Nabataens to ensure human supremacy, due to mutual interest, she stops them from achieving their main goals: killing Byleth, who is Sothis's current vessel, complete domination of Fódlan, and genocide of the surface dwellers. She never seems to realize just how much her justifying having to kill Dimitri itself plays into their plans, as they always want her and Dimitri to kill each other, not concerning themselves with who would be triumphant in such a scenario.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: The Azure Moon route shows flashbacks of her as an adorable preteen girl teaching Dimitri how to dance and generally being an ordinary girl. By the time the main game comes around, she's become willing to trigger a war and kill everyone she once called friends to achieve her ambitions, and by the end of the game she turns herself into a literal monster to oppose Dimitri.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Edelgard sincerely believes that her dream of a united Fódlan freed from the control the Church and Crests will bring about a better future for all. What she does to realize her dream is… unpalatable to many.
  • Villain Has a Point: Zigzagged. Much of the conflict in the game comes from Edelgard thinking the Church is a bigger problem than "those who slither in the dark", to the point of allying with them against the Church (even if she does deal with them later in her ending). While she never learns the real story behind Seiros and Nemesis/the Agarthans, Edelgard is right about Rhea not being suited to rule Fódlan (one irony being that Rhea actually agrees with her on that): the Crest/caste systems she endorses (albeit also preaching against the ways it is abused) is stagnating the continent, and her scheme to resurrect Sothis has colored Rhea's views on what is best for Fódlan (it doesn't help that Rhea made some decisions that actually ended up stagnating the continent even more besides the Crest system, mentioned in Cindered Shadows and confirmed by an interview). While Rhea does love Fódlan dearly, Fódlan changing for the better after Rhea cedes the level of authority she wields is the one constant in all of the routes (even in Silver Snow where, if S-ranked, she returns to being Archbishop but Byleth is indisputably the leader of Fódlan).
  • Villain Protagonist: She starts off as this, as despite her good intentions, she is willing to have two of her fellow students killed by bandits just to make her plans of unifying Fódlan easier. Also, despite her hatred of them, she still works with "those who slither in the dark", who commit countless atrocities. However, with Byleth's help on her own route, Edelgard is able to reduce the influence of "those who slither in the dark" to the only necessary minimum (and she makes sure to eliminate them, once Rhea has been dealt with), and she generally tones down her more extreme tendencies, which makes her more of an Anti-Hero.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: On all non-Crimson Flower routes, she starts a war in order to bring societal reformation to Fódlan, making her The Heavy. On her own route however, she is an inversion, as she is the protagonist, yet she still fires the first shot to bring about change.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Thoroughly examined. Edelgard firmly believes that the only way to reform Fódlan is to start a war to destroy the Church of Seiros and unify the continent under her guidance. It's a major sticking point between the characters and even routes whether she's genuinely doing what needs to be done or if she's senselessly sacrificing lives for a cause she could have championed peacefully. It certainly doesn't help that 1. her limited lifespan has made her desperate to enact change as quickly as possible, and 2. the actions of "those who slither in the dark", either by happenstance or design, drive more moderate potential allies away from her.
  • Visionary Villain: Depending on the route and your own interpretation, of course, but if she is a villain, then she is certainly this. Right or wrong, she has the boldest plans for Fódlan, kickstarting the entire story in order to realize her ideals. Additionally, her ending brings sweeping class reforms and radical systematic changes to the continent, such as abolishing the traditional system of nobility and reforming the Church to not hold any political power over people and ensuring that the throne of power isn't hereditary.
  • The Von Trope Family: Von Hresvelg.
  • War Is Glorious: The ending mural from the Crimson Flower route depicts her holding up Aymr triumphantly as she tramples upon the flags of Leicester, Faerghus, and the Church of Seiros that she conquered. For bonus points the battle axe has long been associated with feminism, making her invoke war and conflict as a symbol of female empowerment.
  • Weapon of Choice: Generally favors axes as her go-to weapon, with her personal Hero Relic being one as well. She even uses an axe when disguising herself as the Flame Emperor.
  • Weapon Twirling: She does a little twirl at the end of her attack animation.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: On the Crimson Flower route, she is welcomed back into the fold with open arms despite being revealed to have been the Flame Emperor the entire time.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Everything she does is out of a genuine desire to end the Church's corrupt status quo and bring true peace to Fódlan.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Her ideals and ambitions ultimately bring her into conflict with her childhood friend Dimitri on all routes and her classmates and her beloved professor Byleth on the Silver Snow route.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: She has white hair, and on all routes other than Crimson Flower she is a ruthless extremist who is willing to trigger a war and crush anyone who gets in her way in order to fix what she sees as the problems within Fódlan. Even on Crimson Flower, she's still an Anti-Hero who mainly avoids falling as far as she does on other routes because of Byleth's influence.
  • Who Will Bell the Cat?: Everyone knows that there needs to be a conversation about Rhea's influence on Fódlan, and the state of the continent's culture as a whole (even Rhea knows this), but only Edelgard is willing to take drastic action to force change. She is labeled a warmonger for this, and whether she is justified or not, if there was a better and more peaceful way to accomplish change, etc. is discussed a number of times in the game. That discussion sees little in the way of definitive answers, though, thanks to the Gray-and-Gray Morality aspects; Edelgard's refusal to compromise, Edelgard, Claude, and Rhea's secrets, Edelgard, Dimitri, and Rhea's refusal to surrender, and those who slither in the dark's agenda.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Her fear for rats, which is Played for Laughs in spite of its origins.
    • During the Battle of the Eagle and Lion, if Claude confronts Edelgard, he'll try to play on her weakness by claiming there's a rat by her feet to freak her out. The prank only embarrasses and angers her.
    • At the end of Crimson Flower Chapter 14, a cutscene plays with her shrieking in fear, causing Byleth to bolt to her room out of worry, only to find out that she was screaming over a rat. She’s understandably embarrassed and becomes even more embarrassed if Byleth comments on how “cute” her scream was.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: She has grand ideals about making Fódlan a place of true equality and prosperity. Too bad she's willing to spill a lot of innocent blood in order to make it happen.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: She puts on airs of being unflappable and ruthlessly determined, but she's secretly anxious about the consequences of her actions. However, she presses on because she solemnly believes that her efforts will create a brighter future for all of Fódlan.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good:
    • If Byleth is a Black Eagle, she laments after the fight with Miklan that had he not been disinherited purely for lacking a Crest and given an appropriate education, he might have become a respected leader with the skills he showed as a bandit leader.
    • On the Crimson Flower route, after killing Dimitri, she muses that he might have become a prosperous and benevolent ruler if only he had been born in a time of peace.
  • Young and in Charge: Deconstructed. Edelgard is well aware she will eventually take the throne of Adrestia and rule it, but because of the Crest experiments she was put through, she has a shorter lifespan that will mean she will eventually pass before she can achieve her goal of unifying Fódlan. As a result, she chooses to kick start her war as early as possible and try to unify the continent as quickly as she can. In doing so, she places heavy stress on herself and uses a Violence Is the Only Option approach because she lacks the time needed to make gradual change. If you side with her, she manages to remain a fairly moral person still, but if you go against her, without a real support system, and her desperation, she becomes harsher and potentially more violent towards her foes, continuing the path she always believed would left her alone.
  • Young Conqueror: While it isn't her primary goal, on the Crimson Flower route, with Byleth's help, Edelgard reconquers the Alliance and Kingdom in her quest to take down the Church of Seiros, ruling a united Fódlan as Emperor at the young age of 23.
  • Your Days Are Numbered:
    • Edelgard's paired ending with Lysithea confirms that Edelgard's lifespan had been shortened by the experimentation she was subjected to at the hands of "those who slither in the dark", as it mentions they were eventually able to bring back the "years of life that had been stolen from them". Like Lysithea, her life was shortened due to being forced to hold two Crests, which would explain why she is so desperate to accomplish her goals as quickly as she can. Unlike her however, it's never explicitly made clear how much of a toll her lifespan took, which creates some ambiguity in her other endings. For what it's worth, it was mentioned in the Nintendo Dream interview her experimentation was far more "refined" compared to the one Lysithea went through, implying the toll her lifespan took was, at the very least, lower by comparison.
    • A few of Edelgard's endings have her abdicating the throne and disappearing from the public eye soon after she finishes her reforms, implying that she had, in fact, actually passed on or was in failing health by then. Specifically, this happens in her solo ending and her paired ending with Hubert. On the other hand, her other endings don't mention anything about an early retirement. Some of the endings where this is justified are her paired endings relating to Crest research, such as Hanneman, Linhardt, and Lysithea, as well as Manuela, whose medical skills were key to prolonging Edelgard's life. Her other endings with Byleth, Caspar, Bernadetta, Dorothea, and Ferdinand don't have justification on why there is no mention of any kind of shortened life or disappearance from the public eye. In fact, Ferdinand's ending specifically states they had children together.

 
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Edelgard Declares War

Edelgard von Hresvelg, now the Emperor of Adrestia, wishes to tear down the corrupt Church of Seiros, dismantle the oppressive Crest system that the power-hungry nobility heavily rely on, and unify Fódlan under one banner, all for the greater good of the world. She'll do anything to achieve these noble goals...even if it means dragging the whole continent into a gruesome war.

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