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Game of Thrones Wiki
This article is about the conflict. For the featurette, see: The Defiance of Duskendale

The Defiance of Duskendale was a conflict during the reign of King Aerys II Targaryen. During the Defiance, Ser Gwayne Gaunt of the Kingsguard was killed by Ser Symon Hollard, and avenged by Ser Barristan Selmy.[1][2]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Defiance of Duskendale was a landmark event during the reign of Aerys II. It occurred somewhere around the year 276 AC.


It began when the Lord Denys Darklyn of Duskendale, seemingly at the behest of his wife, Lady Serala (known as "the Lace Serpent"), refused to pay taxes, demanding a new town charter and certain rights for citizens and ended with the extirpation of two noble families - House Darklyn and their vassals, House Hollard - and a severe rift between the King and his Hand of the King, Lord Tywin Lannister.

The defiance

Since Aerys wished to distance himself from his Hand Tywin, he decided to deal with the Darklyns himself. Aerys went to Duskendale with the Kingsguard and a small force of men, to arrest and put to death Lord Denys. Instead, Aerys was imprisoned. During the capture, Ser Symon Hollard slew Ser Gwayne Gaunt of the Kingsguard. Lord Denys continued his defiance, even as a large host sat outside his walls, commanded by Tywin. Tywin's ability to act had been paralyzed when Lord Denys sent word that at the first sign that Tywin intended to storm the town, Lord Denys would kill the King.

The Defiance ended when Ser Barristan Selmy sneaked into the Dun Fort, the seat of House Darklyn, and rescued his King, killing Symon Hollard during their escape and avenging his fallen Kingsguard brother.


Lord Denys, no longer having a hostage, immediately opened his gates and begged for mercy; Aerys, however, was not inclined to be merciful after all he had endured. Lord Denys was beheaded, along with the rest of his family. His wife Serala was burned alive, though only after she had been tortured and her tongue, breasts and genitals were cut off; the smallfolk, who blamed the Defiance on Serala since she allegedly corrupted her husband into rebelling against his rightful king, still claim Aerys was too merciful to her.

Not one Darklyn remained alive. The same was true for House Hollard, who had sided with House Darklyn during the defiance, with the exception of Dontos Hollard, who was a child at the time. Ser Barristan asked for his life to be spared; since he had saved King Aerys, the latter could not refuse him.

Duskendale was then granted to House Rykker.

Ser Barristan wonders occasionally, even though many years passed since then, if he had not done his duty too well at Duskendale. If he had not rescued Aerys, the mad king might well have died there as Tywin sacked the town, and then Rhaegar would have ascended the Iron Throne, mayhaps to heal the realm. Duskendale has been Ser Barristan's finest hour, yet the memory tastes bitter on his tongue.

See also