Wiki of Westeros

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Wiki of Westeros
Wiki of Westeros

"I'd hate to die like your son - clawing at my neck, foam and bile spilling from my mouth, eyes blood red, skin purple. Must have been horrible for you, as a Kingsguard, as a father. It was horrible enough for me. A shocking scene. Not at all what I intended. You see, I'd never seen the poison work before."
Olenna Tyrell, revealing her role in the assassination to Jaime Lannister.[src]

The Purple Wedding[1] was an event in the War of the Five Kings that involved the death of King Joffrey Baratheon at his own wedding feast. The assassination was orchestrated by Petyr Baelish and Olenna Tyrell.



"War is war, but killing a man at a wedding? Horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing?"
―Olenna Tyrell to Sansa Stark[src]

With House Lannister standing triumphant over its enemies after the Battle of the Blackwater and the Red Wedding, Joffrey is to cement his family's victory by marrying Margaery Tyrell, securing the support of the powerful House Tyrell. The marriage ceremony is conducted by the High Septon at the Great Sept of Baelor, as befits a royal wedding.

Olenna and Sansa 2

Olenna removes the crystallized poison from the necklace of an oblivious Sansa Stark.

The feast continues, Olenna Tyrell approaches Sansa, expressing her condolences for the fate of her family. She straightens Sansa's hair and necklace (a gift from Dontos Hollard), while discreetly removing one of the stones from her necklace without Sansa noticing. What Olenna was truly doing was retrieving a crystalized form of a deadly poison called "the strangler" that was built into the design of the necklace. Tyrion arrives, and Olenna suggests her husband take her to Highgarden one day, saying she would enjoy her stay there.

Joffrey makes a small speech about the importance of the royal wedding and the end of the War of the Five Kings, only to introduce a mock play of "his" victory over the rival claimants to the Iron Throne and the pretenders seeking to secede from the realm. All the players are dwarves, so Joffrey mockingly tries to coerce Tyrion into joining them. Tyrion carefully evades this demand, but at the same time insults Joffrey by suggesting he fight the champion dwarf instead and calling to mind Joffrey's "bravery" at the Battle of the Blackwater, which he proclaims to have seen firsthand. Tyrion finishes by cautioning his nephew to be careful as the champion dwarf is clearly mad with lust and it would be a tragedy for the king to lose his virtue hours before his wedding night, which draws a few stifled yet audible chuckles from the crowd. Enraged and humiliated that Tyrion outwitted him, Joffrey stalks over and empties his wine goblet onto his uncle's head, oblivious that his actions are observed with increasing and obvious disgust by his bride, the guests, and even his mother and grandfather.

Cutting pigeon pie at Purple Wedding

Joffrey cuts the Pigeon pie, filled with live pigeons, so they fly out and create a spectacle when it is cut.

Joffrey then declares he is thirsty and wants Tyrion to be his new cupbearer. He offers him the cup to fill, then drops it and kicks it under the table, but Sansa picks it up for Tyrion. Tyrion fills it but silently refuses to kneel to Joffrey, prompting Joffrey to repeat the demand in increasing, petulant rage. Margaery distracts him by indicating the arrival of the traditional pigeon pie, and Joffrey takes a gulp of the wine from the goblet before handing it to his wife to set it on the table, close to Lady Olenna. As Joffrey cuts the pie with his Valyrian steel sword and shares some with Margaery, Tyrion and Sansa attempt to leave, but Joffrey calls them back and demands Tyrion bring him the cup again, as the dry pie is making him thirsty.

The poisoning

"You don't think I'd let you marry that beast, do you?"
―Olenna Tyrell to Margaery Tyrell[src]

Tyrion obliges and hands Joffrey his cup. Unbeknownst to everyone, w​hile they were distracted by the pigeons coming out of the pie, Olenna slipped the poison into Joffrey's cup. After Joffrey takes a gulp, he starts coughing, and so he takes another gulp of wine to quell the cough. His coughing becomes more violent and it quickly becomes so severe that his throat closes and he cannot breathe; Margaery notices and shouts that he is choking. Lurching forward, Joffrey falls to the ground, desperately gasping for breath and convulsing so violently that it causes him to vomit. Panic erupts amongst the guests, and Lady Olenna shouts for the Kingsguard to help their King. Jaime and Cersei rush to his side to aid him, but he continues to gag, as blood runs out of his nose and his face turns grotesquely purple. With his last strength, the King attempts to point accusingly to his uncle, seemingly believing him to be the culprit. Tyrion, meanwhile, has picked up the wine goblet, inspecting it for poison. The scleras (whites) of Joffrey's eyes turn red and begin to bleed and wheezing out his last breath, he dies.


"He did this. He poisoned my son, your king. Take him, take him! TAKE HIM! TAKE HIM!"
Cersei Lannister orders the arrest of Tyrion Lannister[src]

In blind grief and rage, the knee-jerk reaction of Cersei is to assume Joffrey actually knew who his killer was and accuses Tyrion of poisoning him. Tyrion is promptly arrested by the Kingsguard.

Tommen, Joffrey's younger brother and heir presumptive, becomes king.

Margaery and her family, despite her second widowhood - which causes Margaery to wonder if she is cursed - remain very much in favor, as the Tyrell support is still vital to the Lannisters.

In the confusion of Joffrey's death, Dontos Hollard appears and calmly tells Sansa to go with him if she wants to live, and she relents. They slip away and flee the city. This was a rather large blow to Lannister security, given that Sansa was the last Stark heir publicly confirmed to still be alive.

Sansa and Dontos use a rowboat to reach a waiting ship owned by none other than Littlefinger. After Sansa climbs aboard, Littlefinger has Dontos killed - giving Sansa the explanation that Dontos only saved Sansa because he promised him gold, but he might later reveal the secret of her location, while a dead man will remain silent. Sansa objects until Littlefinger reveals the truth behind the necklace.[2]

While later speaking with Margaery about Tyrion, Olenna states that he is innocent, and implies that it was her who poisoned Joffrey in order to protect Margaery from the mental and physical abuse that Joffrey had quite clearly inflicted on Sansa whilst she was his betrothed. Olenna's decision to kill Joffrey stemmed from her previous conversation with Sansa, in which she described Joffrey as a "beast". Baelish later revealed to Sansa that he had bigger plans for the Seven Kingdoms, but betrayed the Lannisters and sided with the Tyrells since he did not trust Joffrey.[3]

In Braavos, Joffrey's murder is portrayed in the play The Bloody Hand. While the crowd reacts sympathetically to "Cersei"'s sorrow over her dead son, Arya chuckles in amusement.[4]

After Margaery and Loras' arrest by the Faith Militant, Olenna confronts Baelish in his destroyed brothel, reminds him of their shared involvement in Joffrey's murder and threatens to both expose his involvement and have her agents kill him if he tries to silence her unless he aids her in freeing her grandchildren. Littlefinger placates her by providing a means to bring down Cersei.[5]

In her last moments, Olenna reveals to Jaime she was responsible for Joffrey's death, expressing regret only that Joffrey suffered since she was not fully aware of the poison's effects. She does not reveal the identity of her co-conspirator, though.[6]

When Tyrion and Sansa are reunited for the first time since they last saw each other at Joffrey's wedding, Tyrion casually comments on that fact and called the whole event "a miserable affair", but Sansa sardonically remarks, "It had its moments."[7]

Tyrion and Sansa have never been formally exonerated of Joffrey's murder; since almost no one cared about Joffrey, and there have been far more important things to deal with (Army of the Dead), it seems the whole thing was forgotten.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the assassination of Joffrey at his wedding receives no name, unlike the Red Wedding, and is simply referred to as "Joffrey's wedding". The term "Purple Wedding" is a fan-term referring to the wine used to assassinate Joffrey and the fact that purple is a color associated with royalty; and, of course, to draw a parallel with the infamous Red Wedding. The nickname became so popular that even George R.R. Martin and the HBO production team have been known to use it.[8] As Martin explained in an interview with TV Guide, "It's what the fans call the Purple Wedding, based on the color of the wine, which plays a big part."[9]

According to Martin, the conspirators want Joffrey to appear to die accidentally by choking, rather than a public assassination like the Red Wedding;[10] Cersei, however, does not fall for that. Her paranoid mind, which so often makes her see imaginary enemies and schemes, correctly makes her realize Joffrey has been murdered, and later she also figures the Tyrells are to blame (but she incorrectly blames Tyrion too).

Joffrey's death is slightly different in the books: instead of taking place outside the Red Keep, the wedding feast takes place inside the Red Keep itself, with Joffrey, Margaery and their families seated near the Iron Throne; in addition, Jaime doesn't return to King's Landing until shortly after the events. As Joffrey chokes to death, he claws repeatably at his throat in a desperate bid to get air, leaving bloody gashes.

One of the differences between the show and the books is that Sansa is given a hair net, not a necklace. After getting away from the wedding hall, she examines the hair net, and is shocked to see that one gem is missing. She immediately understands the significance, and why Dontos instructed her to wear the hair net.

Another difference is that during the commotion, Tyrion examines the chalice, which still contains a bit of the wine. For unknown reason, Tyrion spills its contents, as if attempting to dispose of incriminating evidence. Some of the witnesses in his trial mention that. As things turn to be, the act of spilling the wine does not worsen Tyrion's position, because the trial is just a farce.

When Littlefinger and Sansa dine at his ancestral home, he reminds her how someone told her that her hair net was crooked and straightened it; only then Sansa realizes how the poisoning was performed. Littlefinger reveals a part of the scheme: it has started when he came to Highgarden in order to form an alliance between the Tyrells and Lannisters. He realized the Tyrells wished to marry Margaery to a king - not necessarily Joffrey. Olenna questioned Littlefinger about Joffrey's nature; he was too subtle to tell the truth, so he praised him to the skies, whilst his men spread disturbing tales amongst the Tyrells' servants. Olenna, of course, wouldn't have let Joffrey harm her precious granddaughter (and feared Loras, who'd been elevated to the Kingsguard, would kill Joffrey if he ever saw the king abusing Margaery the way he did Sansa). Littlefinger predicts that soon Tommen will marry Margaery, and the great western alliance will be preserved (for a time, at least).

A large part of the scheme, however, remains unrevealed by the point the books reached. It is unclear, for instance, how far Margaery was involved; whether Olenna put the poison in the goblet herself, or handed it to another accomplice; who else was involved; etc. There are various fan speculations about the scheme, among them that Garlan Tyrell was the one who put the poison in the wine: he was sitting near it, and he is the only other Tyrell who could be trusted (Mace is not bright enough, and Loras is hot-headed).

Another question left unclear is what Littlefinger's motive was. Apparently, there is nothing he could gain from Joffrey's death: there was no enmity between them; it is doubtful he went that far just to save Sansa, and definitely did not do that to avenge Catelyn's death (the plot has been set in motion long before the Red Wedding occurred). Sansa asks him that question, and he says enigmatically: "Why should I wish him [Joffrey] dead? I had no motive. Besides, I am a thousand leagues away in the Vale. Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next. Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you".

Littlefinger has managed to distance himself from the murder perfectly. Olenna and Sansa are the only ones who know about his part; neither Cersei nor anyone else suspect him even slightly.

Some time later, Jaime questions the other Kingsguard members about the murder. Boros Blount and Meryn Trant are certain it was Tyrion, because he refilled the chalice twice and later spilled its contents. Balon Swann disagrees, pointing out that many of the guests and servants were moving about; when Joffrey and Margaery cut the wedding pie, every eye was on them, and no one watched the wine chalice; anyone who was on the dais (among them the king's family, the bride's family, Pycelle and the High Septon) could have slipped the poison. Loras thinks it was Sansa, claiming that she was the only person in the hall who had reason to want both Margaery and Joffrey dead; why did she run afterward, unless she was guilty? Jaime figures Tyrion may be innocent after all, but has no way to find out the truth since Sansa escaped. He decides to leave the murder mystery unsolved, and make sure no harm happens to Tommen too.

When Oberyn Martell visits Tyrion at his cell, he says amusingly: "I have much to thank your sister for. If not for her accusation at the feast, it might well be you judging me instead of me judging you. Who knows more of poison than the Red Viper of Dorne, after all? Who has better reason to want to keep the Tyrells far from the crown? And with Joffrey in his grave, by Dornish law the Iron Throne should pass next to his sister Myrcella, who as it happens is betrothed to mine own nephew, thanks to you". Oberyn's words imply that there have been two parallel, independent plots to murder Joffrey by poisoning. It is unknown how Oberyn sought to kill Joffrey (perhaps the scorpion-shaped brooch, which he gave Joffrey at the breakfast prior to the wedding, was coated with poison); whatever his plan was, the Tyrells have beaten him to it.

In the fourth novel, Cersei becomes annoyed as a result of Margaery's growing influence over Tommen. Suddenly she realizes the Tyrells had a strong motive to kill Joffrey: he was too stubborn to be influenced, in sharp contrast to his sweet gentle brother, so the Tyrells disposed of him in order to make Tommen a puppet king, whom Margaery could easily control. While that conclusion is partly-correct, Cersei concludes wrongly that Tyrion was the co-conspirator; that the Tyrells helped him escape from prison by bribing the gaolers (that explains, in Cersei's mind, the Tyrell coin which Qyburn found in one of the gaolers' cell); and maybe they conspired to murder Tywin too.

Joffrey's death had been prophesied by an old woods witch, a collaborator of the Brotherhood Without Banners, known as the Ghost of High Heart: "I dreamt of a maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs".

When Stannis is informed about Joffrey's death, he comments "Weddings have become more perilous than battles, it would seem". Recalling how Joffrey once cut a pregnant cat open, Stannis states that whether Tyrion or the leech ritual was responsible for Joffrey's death - the killer has served the kingdom well.




  1. In "Winter Is Coming," which takes place in 298 AC, Sansa Stark tells Cersei Lannister that she is 13 years old and Bran Stark tells Jaime Lannister that he is 10 years old. Arya Stark was born between Sansa and Bran, making her either 11 or 12 in Season 1. The rest of the Stark children have been aged up by 2 years from their book ages, so it can be assumed that she is 11 in Season 1. Arya is 18 in Season 8 according to HBO, which means at least 7 years occur in the span of the series; therefore, each season of Game of Thrones must roughly correspond to a year in-universe, placing the events of Season 4 in 301 AC.

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