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Stannis and Renly parley.

"Get word to the Blackfish. I want a parley. "
Jaime Lannister to Bronn at the Second Siege of Riverrun.[src]

A parley is a conference or discussion, particularly in military affairs. During a conflict or dispute, representatives of the involved parties will meet in good faith to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the issue. An envoy may approach the other party carrying a peace banner, such as a white flag, to indicate their wish to parley. Much like with guest right, it is considered heinous to harm a foe during a parley. Frequently, if a a parley is not held on the open battlefield but in the command tent of one faction, guest right will also be extended, in the simplified form of offering basic food and drink, to reinforce the promise that neither party will attempt to harm the other.

Notable parleys

  • Robb Stark's army reaches the Twins, the heavily-fortified crossing over the Green Fork of the Trident, controlled by the Freys. Storming the castle would be hazardous and time-consuming, and entering to negotiate would also be dangerous for Robb, who may be killed or taken hostage, so Catelyn volunteers to parley in his stead. She meets with Lord Walder Frey and strikes a bargain with him, and the Northern army is allowed to cross.[1]
  • Stannis Baratheon and his younger brother Renly, both claimants to the Iron Throne, meet on a cliff near Shipbreaker Bay to discuss a peace. They trade insults and it is quickly apparent that neither will submit to the other. Catelyn's exhortations for them to reach an agreement make no difference and the brothers part, each vowing to destroy the other.[2]
  • Daenerys Targaryen meets with Razdal mo Eraz, one of the Wise Masters of Yunkai in her tent outside the city. He pleads with her not to attack the city, and first threatens her, then attempts to bribe her with ships and chests of gold. Daenerys counters with her own offer: she will show mercy, if all the slaves of the city are freed. When her dragons snap at Razdal, he nervously reminds her that she guaranteed him safe conduct, but she retorts that her dragons did not. He leaves, threatening retribution from Yunkai's powerful friends.[3]

Theon heads to parley with the ironborn, carrying a white flag to signify his intent.

  • On Ramsay Snow's orders, Theon Greyjoy treats with the ironborn garrison which holds Moat Cailin. He approaches the castle on horseback, carrying a white flag. Theon convinces the ironborn to surrender (after they murder their commander Ralf Kenning) and they are promptly massacred by Ramsay.[3]
  • Following the Battle of Castle Black, Jon Snow leaves to seek out Mance Rayder on the pretext of parleying with him, though Jon actually intends to assassinate the King-Beyond-the-Wall. They meet in Mance's tent and share a toast to the fallen from both sides. Mance realizes Jon's real intention when he notices him eyeing a knife. He chides him for considering killing a man who offered to parley and discuss peace in good faith. They are interrupted by Stannis Baratheon's approaching army.[4]
  • Jaime Lannister, who leads the Freys' second Siege of Riverrun, parleys with Brynden Tully on surrendering Riverrun to House Frey. When it becomes apparent that Brynden has no intention of yielding the castle, an irritated Jaime asks why he agreed to parley. Brynden replies that it was to break the monotony of a boring siege, and also to see Jaime whom, he says, is a disappointment. With that, the Blackfish returns to the castle and closes his gates.
  • During the second siege of Meereen, Daenerys, Missandei, Grey Worm and Tyrion Lannister parley with three representatives of the Wise Masters including Razdal mo Eraz, whom she had parleyed with prior to her capture of Yunkai. The Masters begin dictating their terms to Daenerys, namely that she will vacate Meereen, return the Unsullied she stole from Astapor, along with Missandei, and her dragons must be killed. Daenerys abrubtly corrects them: the parley is intended to discuss their surrender, not hers. She then unleashes her dragons and her khalasar on the attacking forces. Tyrion chides Razdal for breaking a peace made in good faith, and Grey Worm executes two of the representatives.
  • Before the Battle of the Bastards, Jon, Sansa Stark, Davos Seaworth, Lyanna Mormont and Tormund parley with Ramsay Bolton, Harald Karstark and Smalljon Umber. Ramsay offers peace terms to Jon and his men if they hand Sansa over and pledge fealty to him. Jon and Ramsay both agree that a bloodshed is not necessary, but Jon refuses Ramsay's terms, knowing that Ramsay has broken his peace promises numerous times before (though it is unknown if this time Ramsay was being serious due to his precarious situation). When Jon offers Ramsay a chance to settle the conflict through a fight between the two of them, Ramsay refuses, knowing that Jon may very well kill him. The parley ultimately fails when Ramsay threatens to kill Rickon Stark, and Sansa retaliates by telling Ramsay he will die the following day and riding off. Ramsay ultimately perishes after the battle.

A great parley is held at the Dragonpit in King's Landing.

In the books

Stannis and Renly's parley pans out much as portrayed in the TV series, except that at one point Renly puts his hand inside his cloak and pulls out a peach. Distrustful, Stannis was reaching for the hilt of his sword. Renly nonchalantly offers the peach to Stannis, advising his brother that he has never tasted anything so sweet, and to emphasize that he does not fear Stannis. Stannis is affronted by the offer. He later ponders the meaning of the gesture, and laments that “only Renly could vex me with a piece of fruit."

After Renly's death, most of his bannermen defect to Stannis, but Storm's End continues to hold out under Ser Cortnay Penrose. Ser Cortnay parleys with Stannis outside the castle walls, but refuses to yield or give up Robert's acknowledged bastard son Edric Storm. When he insults Stannis and the Lord of Light, Ser Guyard Morrigen snaps: “Be glad this is a parley, Penrose, or I would have your tongue for those words.”

An army led by Ser Rodrik Cassel besieges Winterfell after it is captured by Theon Greyjoy. Cley Cerwyn approaches the gates with a peace banner, indicating that the besiegers seek a parley. Theon leaves the castle walls to negotiate with Ser Rodrik. Theon is hopelessly outnumbered, and knows that he cannot hold Winterfell for long without assistance, but remains defiant. He reveals his trump card: Ser Rodrik's daughter, whom he threatens to hang if the besiegers attack. He hurriedly returns to the castle, fearing he may be picked off by an archer, despite the oath.

When Theon heads to parley with the besieged ironborn garrison at Moat Cailin, he carries a rainbow-colored flag to signify his intentions. The rainbow is a symbol of the Faith of the Seven, and often used to indicate a parley. This was changed to a white flag in the TV series, perhaps because a rainbow flag might look absurd to television viewers.

Following several days of battle at Castle Black, it is Mance Rayder who sends an envoy with an offer of parley. Mance refuses to meet at Castle Black, however, as he fears he will taken captive and executed by the Night's Watch. Janos Slynt confirms that this is exactly what they would do to Mance. Jon Snow does not volunteer to be the Watch's envoy, but is ordered to go by Slynt and Alliser Thorne. They add that they have no intention of discussing terms with Mance, and instruct Jon to assassinate him, knowing the wildlings will probably kill Jon on the spot in retribution, if they don't first kill him for having betrayed them.

During the second siege of Riverrun, before Jaime arrives, Ryman Frey tries to parley with Blackfish. He rides up to the castle gates half-drunk and blustering, making threats. Blackfish appears on the ramparts long enough to say that he will not waste fair words on foul men. Then he puts an arrow in the rump of Ryman’s palfrey. The horse rears and drops Ryman into the mud, much to the amusement of the spectators. Jaime's attempt to parley with Brynden turns to be fruitless too, similarly to the show, though Brynden ends it without humiliating Jaime.

During the second siege of Meereen, three parleys are held:

  • Hizdahr meets with the Yunkai lords, and later delivers Daenerys their terms: she must pay compensation to Yunkai and its allies, allow Yunkai to resume slavery and marry Hizdahr. Reluctantly, Daenerys complies to all those terms without negotiating.
  • Following Daenerys's departure and the death of the Wise Master Yurkhaz, the Yunkai'i claim that Meereen has breached the peace treaty and demand that the dragons must be destroyed. Hizdahr, whom Ser Barristan Selmy suspects that he secretly collaborates with Daenerys's enemies, answers meekly that he must consult his council. Before he can do anything about the dragons, he is overthrown by Daenerys's loyalists.
  • Ser Barristan Selmy sends Galazza Galare to parley with the Yunkai'i, offering them a large ransom for the three hostages they still hold (Daario, Hero and Jhogo). Ser Barristan expects the parley to fail (as indeed happens), but its real purpose is to drive a wedge between the Yunkai'i and their sellswords.