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This article is about Daenerys Targaryen's attack. For other battles taking place at King's Landing, see the Battle of King's Landing (disambiguation).
"I defended the city last time it was attacked; I know it better than anyone. The city will fall tomorrow."
Tyrion Lannister to Jaime Lannister[src]

The battle of King's Landing was the final engagement of Daenerys Targaryen's war for Westeros, fought between the Lannister-led forces of Queen Cersei Lannister and the Stark, Arryn and Targaryen alliance force, led by Daenerys Targaryen for control over King's Landing, the capital and largest city of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and seat of the Iron Throne.

As Daenerys and her troops gain the upper hand, the Lannister soldiers surrender. However, Daenerys refuses to accept this and instead goes on a rampage with Drogon by burning the city and its inhabitants, unintentionally setting off the wildfire caches beneath it, while her troops begin to sack the city. The Red Keep is significantly damaged in the process, with large sections collapsing, killing Cersei Lannister and Jaime Lannister. Jon Snow orders his forces to pull back while Daenerys and her armies seize control over the remnants of the ruined city.[1][2]

King's Landing and the Iron throne are conquered, Cersei and her forces are eliminated, and the war for Westeros ends in victory for Daenerys and her allies, completing the Targaryen restoration - but at a terrible cost.

History

Prelude

"Oh yes, you'll be queen...for a time. Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear"
Maggy the Frog's prophecy about Cersei Lannister's downfall[src]
Daenerys resumed hostilities with Queen Cersei after the Great War was won and the White Walkers were destroyed.[3] Daenerys began her campaign to take the Iron Throne, the center of power from which her house ruled Westeros for 300 years before the Targaryen dynasty was overthrown by Robert Baratheon. After the War of the Five Kings, however, the Baratheon dynasty was also left in shambles, and Cersei of House Lannister seized the Iron Throne with none left to oppose her after destroying her gathered enemies in the Great Sept of Baelor using leftover wildfire.[4] Cersei had promised to send her armies north to fight alongside the Targaryen, House Stark, and House Arryn armies against the Army of the Dead. However, Cersei betrayed them and held back her forces, restrengthening her position by hiring the Golden Company, which was ferried to Westeros by her prospective consort and ally, Euron Greyjoy, the commander of the Iron Fleet.[5]

After the Battle of Winterfell, Daenerys and her forces sailed for Dragonstone but were ambushed by Euron and the Iron Fleet, using Qyburn's anti-dragon scorpions to kill one of her last dragons, Rhaegal and smash her fleet. The ironborn also took Missandei captive and delivered her to Cersei in King's Landing. Daenerys, Tyrion, and Grey Worm parleyed with Cersei outside the gates of King's Landing, but Cersei ultimately refused to surrender to Daenerys and ordered Ser Gregor Clegane to behead Missandei before them. Daenerys angrily walks away with her forces.[5]

Jon, having given up his crown as King in the North to Daenerys as queen when she vowed to fight the Army of the Dead alongside him,[6] is pledged to support Daenerys with The North's forces in her resumed campaign.[5]. He marches south on the Kingsroad with what remains of the Dothraki and the armies of the North and the Vale straight towards King's Landing. Under a new prince, Dorne has also declared for Daenerys Targaryen, but they do not send their forces to King's Landing. Yara Greyjoy, who retook the Iron Islands, too doesn't send any forces. Daenerys also restored House Baratheon by legitimizing Gendry, a bastard son of Robert Baratheon, but he is unable to rally the Stormlands in time to participate in the battle.[5] The Riverlands and the Reach also do not participate in the battle.[1]

Tyrion reveals to Daenerys that Varys has betrayed her, and as a result, Daenerys has him burnt alive by Drogon on the beaches of Dragonstone in front of Tyrion and Jon. Tyrion later convinces Daenerys to not attack the city if the bells are rung, signaling surrender. He frees his brother, who was captured by the Targaryen forces while trying to cross their lines, telling him to convince their sister to surrender and escape to Pentos using a boat provided by Ser Davos Seaworth. Meanwhile, in King's Landing, Cersei rounds up as many smallfolk as she can to create a human shield against Daenerys,[5] closing the gates to the Red Keep as it becomes filled up. The Hound and Arya Stark, having ridden south from Winterfell in hopes of killing Gregor and Cersei, make it through, but Jaime is unable to make it through and takes an alternate path to the Red Keep.[1]

The battle

"Dracarys!"
Missandei's last words[src]
Davos Jon & Tyrion S8 Ep5

Jon, Davos, Tyrion, and their armies face off the Golden Company.

Sailing from Dragonstone and marching from the Kingsroad, Jon, Davos, and Tyrion consolidate the Unsullied, Dothraki, and Northern-Vale forces outside the gates of King's Landing. Captain Harry Strickland leads the Golden Company outside the city walls to face off the combined Targaryen, Stark, and Arryn forces.

In Blackwater Bay, Daenerys ambushes the Iron Fleet on Drogon while the fleet was still preparing for attack. The sun rays reflected from the clouds make it difficult for them to focus while targeting upwards. In addition, Drogon flying fast and low also makes it difficult for them to target him. In the ensuing attack, the Iron Fleet is all but wiped out; the ironborn fire their scorpions, but the mighty dragon is far too fast for them. Euron manages to jump into the sea before his ship is destroyed. She then proceeds to destroy the Lannister forces manning the Scorpions on the ramparts.

While the Targaryen, Stark, and Arryn forces have a standoff with the Golden Company outside the city walls, Daenerys directs Drogon to the front gates, catching the defenders completely by surprise, destroying the gate in a fiery blast that shatters the Golden Company's lines and creates a breach.

The Targaryen, Stark, and Arryn forces charge through. Harry Strickland recovers from the attack but is killed by Grey Worm as he tries to retreat into the city. The Dothraki are the first to enter the city, cutting through the still-recovering Lannister forces and preventing them from recovering fast enough to create a proper defense. The Northmen and Unsullied are close behind, mopping up the stunned Lannister forces and pouring into the city. Daenerys attacks the Golden Company directly, decimating their retreating forces as they try to flee.

Meanwhile, the Targaryen, Stark, and Arryn forces battle the Lannister forces while Daenerys and Drogon strafe the city walls, destroying the remaining scorpions. Watching from the Red Keep, Cersei is in denial of her dire situation, as Qyburn informs of the loss of the Iron Fleet and Golden Company, destruction of all the anti-dragon ballistae, and breaching of the city gates.

As the fighting continues, Jon, Davos, Grey Worm and the bulk of the forces march down the main street of King's Landing, cutting down attacks from Lannister soldiers along the way. They soon join up with a group of Northmen in a standoff with a large Lannister contingent. With the last of the scorpions destroyed, Daenerys lands Drogon on a nearby roof, intimidating the remaining Lannister soldiers and small folk.

STARKENTOURAGEBE;;S

Jon leads the Northmen and knights of the Vale into King's Landing.

Realizing that the war is lost, the Lannister soldiers drop their weapons and surrender, causing cries from the people to ring the bells. Jon and Tyrion are relieved at the surrender while Cersei watches in disappointment as both her soldiers and people turn on her, their cries to ring the bells echoing throughout the city. The bells soon begin ringing, signaling that the battle has come to an end with a relatively bloodless Targaryen victory.

TheBellsWFire

Wildfire caches erupt from the dragonfire.

Daenerys stares at the Red Keep, knowing that her hated enemy who killed her child and close friend still holds it; in a terrifying turn of events, she becomes enraged and unleashes Drogon on a destructive rampage across the city, destroying countless buildings and killing thousands of smallfolk and surrendered Lannister soldiers as a horrified Tyrion watches from beyond the city's burnt walls. Grey Worm hurls a spear at one of the Lannister soldiers, triggering the Targaryen, Stark, and Arryn forces to begin sacking the city. Jon orders his men to stop. However, the men of the North are consumed by hatred for the actions of House Lannister (the execution of Ned Stark, the War of the Five Kings, the Red Wedding, Roose and Ramsay Bolton's rule and Cersei's treachery in the fight against the dead) and refuse to show mercy. In the ensuing chaos, Jon and Davos are separated, and Jon is forced to kill one of his own men when the man attempts to rape a woman. Cersei watches the unfolding carnage in mute horror and shock. Despite the deteriorating situation, Cersei remains defiant until Qyburn convinces her the battle is lost and the Red Keep under siege, advising Cersei to retreat to the (relative) safety of Maegor's Holdfast.

Across King's Landing, the wildfire caches placed beneath the city by the Mad King, begin to ignite and explode, triggered by the dragonfire, while buildings crumble and burn, crushing those in their path. As Davos attempts to evacuate civilians, Jon - witnessing the ever-increasing danger and horrified by Daenerys's brutality - exchanges a look with Davos and Jon orders the Stark and Arryn forces to begin a retreat from the city.

Clegane Battle S8 Ep5

The Clegane brothers duel each other to the death.

Arya and the Hound infiltrate the Red Keep, but Sandor convinces Arya to turn back, warning her that if she goes further down her path for murder and vengeance, she'll end up like him. Arya and Sandor bid farewell and Arya rushes out of the Red Keep. As she tries to save fleeing civilians she encounters, Sandor confronts Cersei, Qyburn, and her Queensguard, among them his brother. Sandor's taunting of Gregor breaks Cersei and Qyburn's hold over him; the Mountain smashes Qyburn's skull while Cersei flees. Sandor kills the remaining Queensguard that survived from the falling stones and duels his brother, knocking off his armor and revealing his undead appearance. The Mountain is able to survive the Hound's attacks and pushes him against a wall, attempting to crush his eyes, but the Hound repels him and tackles him through a wall, and the two brothers fall hundreds of feet to their deaths into the flames below.

The Bells

Jaime reunites with Cersei.

Jaime goes around the Red Keep, but is confronted by Euron, and the two engage in a brutal melee; Euron stabs Jaime multiple times, but Jaime ultimately overpowers Euron and runs him through with his sword, killing him. Jaime then rushes to his sister, finding her in the crumbling Red Keep and comforting her. They rush down to the crypts beneath the Red Keep where the dragon skulls are kept, but their exit to the boat has been blocked off by debris. Cersei pleads with her brother to save her and their child, but Jaime embraces her as they are crushed to death by the collapsing debris.

Aftermath

Arya Burned Bodies S8 Ep5

Arya Stark awakens in the carnage of the dead city.

A stirring Arya wakes up in rubble, covered in ash, blood, and debris, having been unable to save anyone despite her attempts. She finds a horse and rides out of the ruined city.[1] Daenerys later orders the execution of everyone who followed Cersei Lannister.[2]

The casualties during the battle were immense. Including Lannister soldiers and innocent civilians, the death toll likely reached tens, if not hundreds of thousands, making the battle one of the deadliest in Westerosi history.

Ironically, the Targaryens did the same thing to the city under House Lannister rule that House Lannister had done to the city under House Targaryen during the Sack of King's Landing, albeit the way in which House Targaryen did so was disproportionately more violent.

Jon, Davos, and Tyrion walk through the ruined city covered in ashes. They survey the aftermath in distress, with charred bodies everywhere. Tyrion goes to find the bodies of his siblings.

S8 E6 Daenerys

Daenerys stands over the ruins of King's Landing.

Daenerys seizes control over what little remains of King's Landing, which has been thoroughly burnt and turned into ashes from dragonfire and wildfire. The Unsullied stand guard by her while the Dothraki cheer her on. Jon and Tyrion stand on the top of the steps behind Daenerys as she delivers a speech to the remaining Dothraki and Unsullied, declaring the sack of King's Landing a success and calling them all 'liberators', "You tore down their stone houses, you gave me the Seven Kingdoms," she tells the Dothraki. Daenerys promotes Grey Worm as the Commander of all her forces and the Master of War. She also praises the Unsullied and calls her forces 'liberators' for 'freeing' the people of King's Landing. Jon watches this, concerned, while Tyrion comes to the scene, looking devastated by his brother's death. Daenerys now wants to break the wheel and enlists her army to aid her in 'liberating' not only all of Westeros, but the world in her quest to realize her vision: "From Winterfell to Dorne, from Lannisport to Qarth, from the Summer Isles to the Jade Sea."

Red keep

The remains of the Red Keep following the battle.

Daenerys has Tyrion arrested for committing treason by freeing his brother. Jon visits Tyrion, who tries to convince him to take action against Daenerys to protect the world from doing what she did to the people of King's Landing. Jon is horrified by Daenerys's actions but struggles due to his love for Daenerys and doesn't want to betray her. Tyrion understands this, as he loves Daenerys too, but tells Jon she is now the greatest threat to the people and will kill anyone and everyone who presents an obstacle to her vision of an ideal world. He urges Jon to assassinate her, reminding Jon that Daenerys will view his Targaryen heritage as a threat to her claim. Jon finds himself unable to agree to kill Daenerys. As Jon leaves, Tyrion tells Jon that his "sisters" are unlikely to bend the knee to Daenerys.

In the ruins of the throne room, Daenerys approaches the Iron Throne, reaching out to touch it when she is found by Jon, who confronts her over burning down King's Landing, killing thousands of men, women, and children, and executing surrendered Lannister prisoners. Daenerys defends that these actions were necessary and Cersei mistakenly thought mercy was her weakness. Jon pleads with Daenerys to forgive Tyrion and all of the people of King's Landing, to make them see they are mistaken about her. Daenerys defends her actions and explains she can't hide behind small mercies, "The world we need won't be built by men loyal to the world we have." Jon says they need a world of mercy but Daenerys believes her actions are the way they build a good world. Distressed, Jon asks Daenerys how she knows it's good and questions, "What about everybody else? All the people who think they know what's good?" Daenerys simply responds, "They don't get to choose." Daenerys pulls Jon into an embrace and tries to convince him of her vision. Jon declares she will always be his queen and they kiss. He reluctantly and emotionally kills her. As he holds Daenerys's body in his arms while grieving, Drogon, the last dragon, roars in rage and grief over Daenerys. He proceeds to melt the Iron Throne and flies away with Daenerys's body.

Jon is taken prisoner by the Unsullied. Sometime later, Tyrion is brought before a gathering of the remaining great Westerosi lords and ladies to determine the future of the realm and decide the fates of himself and Jon. Tyrion proposes that they choose the next king and nominates Bran Stark. The council agrees and elects Bran into the position. Bran names Tyrion his Hand of the King and, in order to appease Grey Worm and the Unsullied, exiles Jon into the Night's Watch. Grey Worm and the Unsullied leave Westeros for the Isle of Naath while Jon, the last Targaryen, ventures north of the Wall with his direwolf Ghost and Tormund and the Free Folk.[2]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin, an equivalent event has not occurred. The TV show has surpassed the timeline of the books, two of which are yet to be published, so it is unclear if such an event will occur.

References

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