|“||Yet we have the strength to scale the walls between us, to reach out our hands in friendship so we can open our true hearts to one another. That's how we win!||„|
Claude von Riegan is the heir to the noble family who leads the Leicester Alliance and the house leader of the Golden Deer. He's one of the main protagonists and playable characters in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
Claude was born to the king of Almyra and a noble from House Riegan of the Leicester Alliance. Due to his mixed heritage, he was discriminated against during his childhood. He eventually moved to Fodlan with the ultimate goal of uniting the world in harmony in order to destroy racial divides. In 1179, he was legitimized as the heir to House Riegan. In 1180, he traveled to Garreg Mach Monastery to receive an education at the Officer's Academy, and became the house leader of the Golden Deer.
Claude has pale darker skin with brown hair and green eyes. He wears his yellow cape, the color of his house, on the side of his uniform. After the five-year timeskip, he has a shorter haircut and has grown sideburns.
Claude is described as easygoing at the surface, but has a side that forces others to keep their guard around him. His introduction to Byleth at the Officers Academy emphasizes this as he refrains from divulging his potential professor any information about himself to give himself a "sense of mystery" and to entice them to choose his house in order to get to know him better. While appearing lazy and casual, he is far more astute than he lets on and is always a few steps ahead of his peers during conversations.
He is a cunning strategist and is particularly skilled at mind games to throw his opponents off. He openly converses with Byleth of a ploy to give his house rivals food poisoning to give his house an advantage in the first mock battle. While he does not do so, he simply stated it to rile his rivals. He cares greatly for those under his command, valuing their lives and advises them to retreat rather than fight to the death, as shown in the Crimson Flower route numerous times. He abhors killing, only doing so if completely necessary; his tactics generally rely on incapacitating the enemy. His skills as a tactician have grown significantly after the time-skip that his guise of neutrality intimidates other nations' advisers as they know he has ulterior motives in hand.
Claude dislikes blind faith in gods, as he prefers to rely on the strength of men. On the other hand, he enjoys archery, long rides, subjects of curiosity, poetry, scheming and organizing feasts.
Claude, Princess Edelgard von Hresvelg of the Adrestian Empire, and Prince Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus are rescued from bandits by the mercenary Byleth. As a reward, Archbishop Rhea of the Church of Seiros grants them a post as a teacher at the Academy, and Byleth selects a house to teach. Over the course of the next year, Claude studies at the Officer's Academy. During this time, the Church comes under attack from a mysterious masked individual known as the Flame Emperor. Eventually, the Flame Emperor is unmasked as Edelgard, who takes the Adrestian throne and declares war on the Church and its allies. Claude fights in the ensuing Battle of Garreg Mach on the Church's side, but the Church is defeated and Byleth vanishes. He returns to Leicester and formally becomes its leader, and spends the next five years maintaining a veneer of neutrality in order to keep the Empire at bay. His ultimate fate is decided by what house Byleth chose and whether or not they defected to the Empire.
If Byleth chose the Golden Deer, Claude returns to Garreg Mach on the day of the Millennium Festival and reunites with Byleth, who has awoken from a coma. Reassembling the former Golden Deer, Claude and Byleth launch a campaign against the Empire. During the war against Adrestia, Claude learns about a hidden faction called "those who slither in the dark", who have had a hand in many of the negative events that have plagued Fodlan over the last decade. Eventually, Claude invades the Adrestian capital of Enbarr and kills Edelgard, ending the war. Edelgard's vassal Hubert posthumously directs them to Shambhala, stronghold of those who slither in the dark, and Claude besieges the city and wipes them out. He then confronts Rhea and learns the truth about her past life as Seiros and the history of Fodlan for the past millennium. Those who slither in the dark resurrect the ancient warlord Nemesis as a final act of spite against Fodlan, but Claude and Byleth kill him. Claude then entrusts the future of Fodlan to Byleth as the first leader of the United Kingdom of Fodlan, and returns to Almyra to become its king.
If Byleth chose the Black Eagles and remained loyal to the Church, Claude lends Byleth and the Resistance Army aid by drawing pro-Imperial Gloucester forces away from the Great Bridge of Myrddin so the Resistance can conquer it. He later leads Alliance forces in a three-way battle against the Empire and surviving Kingdom forces led by a deranged and vengeful Dimitri, but is defeated and vanishes after the battle. His final fate remains ambiguous, although many of his former classmates believe him to still be alive.
If Byleth chose the Blue Lions, Claude lends Dimitri and the Kingdom army aid by drawing pro-Imperial Gloucester forces away from the Great Bridge of Myrddin so the Kingdom can conquer it. He later leads Alliance forces in a direct invasion of the Empire, but a misunderstanding draws him into a fight with Dimitri and he is defeated. Claude retreats to the Alliance capital of Derdriu, but the Empire takes advantage of the damage done to the Alliance and Dimitri being preoccupied with liberating the Kingdom capital of Fhirdiad to invade. Claude petitions Dimitri for aid, and the two defeat Imperial forces in a pincer attack. In the aftermath, Claude disbands the Alliance, cedes the right to govern its territories to Dimitri, and departs Fodlan.
If Byleth chose the Black Eagles and defected to the Empire, Edelgard and Byleth lead Imperial forces in an invasion of the Alliance. Claude lures them to Derdriu in the hopes of killing Edelgard and defeating the Empire in one decisive battle, but his forces are overrun and Derdriu is conquered. Claude can be executed or spared at the player's discretion; if spared, he acknowledges Edelgard as the victor, wishes her good luck in changing Fodlan for the better, and departs the continent.