- ""Lions", you call yourselves. At the Mummer's Ford girls of seven years were raped. And babes, still on their mother's breast were cut in two while their mothers watched!"
The Battle at the Mummer's Ford was a military engagement in the first days of the War of the Five Kings. It takes place when the forces of House Lannister led by Ser Gregor Clegane come into conflict with the Iron Throne detachment sent by Hand of the King Eddard Stark, under the leadership of Lord Beric Dondarrion along with Thoros of Myr, to execute Ser Gregor.
The battle is off-screen in the TV series. It results in the victory of Ser Gregor Clegane and the first death of Lord Beric Dondarrion, who is resurrected after the battle.
Tywin Lannister sends Gregor Clegane to ravage the countryside in the Riverlands, in retaliation to the kidnapping of Tyrion by Catelyn. Some of the refugees of these attacks go to King's Landing to plead their case for justice. There, in the Great Hall of the Red Keep, Eddard Stark, as Hand of the King, sits on the Iron Throne, flanked by Petyr Baelish and Pycelle, dispensing justice while King Robert Baratheon is away from King's Landing on a hunt.
When asked who committed the massacre, the spokesman for the refugees replies that the attackers carried no banners, but that their leader was a foot taller than any man he had ever seen, and was capable of cutting off the head of a horse with a single blow of a sword. Littlefinger whispers to Ned that they have seen this feat themselves - Ser Gregor did this at the Hand's Tournament. Ned tells the spokesman that the man he is describing is Gregor Clegane.
Even though Robert had left Ned with explicit instructions to make peace with the Lannisters, he cannot let these acts go unpunished. He tells the assembled refugees that though he cannot bring back what is lost, he can mete out justice for those who committed these crimes. Ned calls forth Lord Beric Dondarrion and charges him to take a force of 100 men and travel to the lands of House Clegane. Ned proclaims in the name of the King that Ser Gregor Clegane is hereby stripped of all lands and titles and sentenced to death. He charges Beric with carrying out the sentence.
Ned also orders Pycelle to send a raven to Tywin at Casterly Rock, instructing him to come to King's Landing, within a fortnight, to answer for the crimes of his bannerman. Otherwise, he will be branded a traitor and an enemy to the throne.
It is reported that the Iron Throne detachment takes heavy loses from a force led by Gregor Clegane. Beric Dondarrion is killed, which is reported, but not that Thoros unwittingly brings him back from the dead, when Thoros prays over his corpse.
The survivors are trapped behind enemy lines with the start of the War of the Five Kings. Instead of fleeing, they form the Brotherhood Without Banners to protect the smallfolk by harassing Lannister soldiers. This group eventually becomes hostile to anyone who harms the smallfolk, including Stark soldiers. Hence, their name "Brotherhood Without Banners".
Thoros brings Beric back from the dead multiple times - at last count, six times - with a prayer to the Lord of Light, but does not know why his prayer only works on Beric.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Tywin sends the Mountain to raid the Riverlands, not a simple retaliatory act for Tyrion's kidnapping, but also in hope that Ned Stark will lead the force; Tywion plans an ambush, either to kill Ned or take him hostage to trade for Tyrion. However, Ned's leg was broken in a bloody encounter with Jaime, so he cannot lead the detachment himself. Ned assigns Beric to lead the force. With Beric, Ned sends Thoros of Myr, Ser Gladden Wylde and Lord Lothar Mallery, each of whom are to raise 20 men-at-arms, along with 20 Winterfell men (including Alyn and Harwin) to fight alongside them.
The Iron Throne detachment is intercepted at the Mummer's Ford and makes a fighting retreat, only to be taken in the rear by Ser Gregor Clegane and his men. Lothar, Raymun and Gladden are all killed, as are most of Eddard's men. Alyn of Winterfell manages to rally the survivors into a retreat. Young Lord Edric Dayne participates as Beric's squire and survives the battle.
When Harwin later tells Arya about the battle, he actually says that they had about 120 men ("six score"); Beric says the same number. The TV series just has Eddard command Beric to send a force of "100 men", and the Season 6 animated featurette about the battle simply copies when TV-Eddard said. Both versions say only 40 men survived.
Many characters who later formed the Brotherhood were introduced at the Tourney of the Hand in the first novel. This tourney did occur in Season 1 of the TV series, but the characters were not introduced, because they would not really make a significant appearance until Season 3 - they are given cameos in the first novel but only reappear as "the Brotherhood" in the third novel (though as in Season 2 of the TV series, in the second novel characters do mention that something called "the Brotherhood" is harassing Lannister supply lines).
At the Tourney of the Hand, Anguy won the archery contest and Thoros won the melee contest. This is why they arrived in King's Landing and were available when Ned ordered Beric to lead out a group of able knights to bring Gregor Clegane to justice - the soldiers who formed the original core of the Brotherhood Without Banners. Thus the connection might be lost on the TV audience that one of the reasons the Brotherhood is such a disproportionately capable fighting force is because so many of its initial members were elite fighters who came to the capital city to participate in the Tourney of the Hand. For example it might be a bit contrived in the TV series that, as if by pure chance, the Brotherood's lead archer Anguy just happens to be preternaturally skilled with a bow. The books actually do explain that he is a professional archer so skilled that he actively competes in tournaments, and indeed recently won first place at a royal-level archery tournament. Moreover, he doesn't just happen to be wandering in the Riverlands, but the rational reason was given that he was in the capital for a major tournament, before being sent out with Dondarrion.
|Scourging of the Riverlands||
|The Young Wolf's campaign||
Purple Wedding · Tyrion Lannister (I) · Tyrion Lannister (II) · Tower of the Hand
|Ironborn Invasion of the North||
The Dreadfort · Moat Cailin (II) · Deepwood Motte (II)