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This article is about the Histories & Lore special feature. For other uses, see: Robert's Rebellion (disambiguation)

"Robert's Rebellion" is part of the Histories & Lore, a special feature from Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season, Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season, Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season, Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season, and Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season. Several segments have been produced, not adding to the event chronologically, but each offering a different perspective on the rebellion as narrated by characters with very different memories or interpretations. They are narrated by Stephen Dillane as King Stannis Baratheon, Liam Cunningham as Ser Davos Seaworth, Natalie Dormer as Lady Margaery Tyrell, Michelle Fairley as Lady Catelyn Stark, Aidan Gillen as Lord Petyr Baelish, Conleth Hill as Lord Varys, Pedro Pascal as Prince Oberyn Martell, Ian McElhinney as Ser Barristan Selmy, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Ser Jaime Lannister.


Stannis Baratheon

Stannis Baratheon reflects on his brother Robert's rebellion against the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen and his own part in it, as well as his bitterness for not being justly rewarded.

Davos Seaworth

Davos Seaworth recounts his lowly beginnings and days as a smuggler as well as the event that brought him into the service of Stannis Baratheon.

Margaery Tyrell

Margaery Tyrell details House Tyrell's loyalty to House Targaryen before the rebellion and to House Baratheon afterwards.

Catelyn Stark

Catelyn Stark reminisces on the rebellion and how it affected the family she was born into as well as the one she married into.

Varys and Petyr Baelish

Varys and Petyr Baelish debate the downfall of House Targaryen, the roles played by those involved and the status the rebellion has led to.

Oberyn Martell

Oberyn Martell discussed his sister Elia's marriage to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and the horrors that befell her and her children as a result.

Barristan Selmy

Barristan Selmy discusses events leading up to and during Robert's Rebellion and the role he played in these.

Jaime Lannister

Jaime Lannister explains his own perspective of Robert's Rebellion, from the time he joined the Kingsguard to the day he slayed the Mad King.

Stannis Baratheon's perspective

Stannis Baratheon: My brother, Robert Baratheon, had raised the banners of Storm's End, our ancestral castle, against the Mad King Aerys.

Jon Arryn of the Vale and Eddard Stark of the North stood with him, and Hoster Tully of the Riverlands would join.

But their lands were far from ours and separated by the combined strength of the West, the Reach, and King's Landing itself. Even Robert's own lords were against him.

It was the hardest choice I've ever made: my brother or my king, blood or honor. Aerys ruled by right of all the laws in Westeros. Everyone knew the price of defiance. But there are deeper, older laws: the younger brother bows before the elder. I followed Robert.

Early in the war, Mace Tyrell's indecisive victory at Ashford cut Robert off from Storm's End. Instead of pursuing Robert, and risking his record, Mace Tyrell turned east and laid siege to our home.

His vast army and navy encircled us and preventing any resupply by land or sea. If a wagon tried to reach us, it was burned. If a ship tried to land, it was sunk.

We were locked inside Storm's End to starve. But Robert had commanded me to hold the castle no matter the cost. He could ill afford to lose his ancient seat, which had never fallen.

While Robert smashed Rhaegar on the Trident, my men ate the dogs because the horses had already been devoured. While the Lannisters sacked King's Landing, we ate the rats.

If the smuggler Davos had not slipped through the Tyrell blockade with his onions, we'd have eaten our own dead.

But I held the castle until Lord Eddard remembered us, and marched to lift the siege. The Tyrells didn't even put up a fight, and Robert threw a feast to celebrate Lord Eddard's "victory."

I was sent to the royal island stronghold of Dragonstone to deal with Viserys and Daenerys, the last surviving Targaryen children.

Before I arrived, however, they had escaped across the Narrow Sea. Robert was furious. He stripped me of Storm's End and gave it to that prancing fool Renly, my younger brother. I could keep Dragonstone.

Now Robert is dead, and a bastard pretender soils my throne while the realm fills with schemers and traitors. But the rightful king is coming for them all, and I will not stop until I have scoured the land clean of abomination.

The Baratheons say, "Ours is the Fury." I will show them fury burns.


  • In the books, Stannis speaks about the siege in length, but Renly is the one who mentions that the defenders of Storm's End nearly resorted to cannibalism. He tells this to Catelyn, when the latter arrives at his camp to negotiate on behalf of Robb.



Noble houses




In the books

  • The segment is adapted from the following chapter of A Storm of Swords:
    • Chapter 36, Davos IV: Stannis speaks about the choices he had, whether to support his king or his brother.

Davos Seaworth's perspective

Davos Seaworth: In King's Landing, if you leave the Red Keep and aren't careful, you may find yourself in Flea Bottom. In such a cesspool did House Seaworth have its glorious start.

I got out as soon as I could, finding work on a smuggler ship. Soon, every port on the Narrow Sea had a bounty on me, which they would collect if I didn't pay a percentage to the right people or pick the right tide.

You know how to tell a good smuggler? When you talk to one, there's a head that talks back.

I was very good. Davos of Flea Bottom had run with orphans and beggars, but Davos the smuggler was received by merchants and lords when nobody would catch them.

Oddly, the only honest work came from pirates, like the notorious, bloodthirsty Salladhor Saan, an old friend. All he ever wanted was someone to buy his cargo quickly before the tide left, and sell it without telling where I got it.

In time, I saved enough to buy a small plot of land and found a woman who was kind enough to overlook my trade. She gave me a son, Matthos. And we dreamt of the traders' circle around the Jade Sea. Just one trip and I could settle us and our family for life.

Then some Stormlord revolted against the Iron Throne. Wars are not as good for smugglers as you'd think. Every harbor fills with guards and inspectors, and the seas fill with blockades and pirates paid by each side to prey on the other.

Though I had no love for the Mad King, I'd grown up around the power of King's Landing. I figured this Robert Baratheon would end as the other rebel lords: burned to ash. But he didn't.

The North, the Riverlands, and the Vale joined him. And in the taverns, people drank to Robert's health openly. "Brave fools," I thought. But I had a family who'd be left in the cold if I lost my head.

When Mace Tyrell marched on Robert's home at Storm's End, I spied the end of the rebellion.

The castle was garrisoned by Robert's younger brother Stannis and a small guard, and would not hold out for long. When it fell, Robert would be homeless, and his support would bleed away. This, I knew from experience.

Months later, Stannis was still holding the castle. Nobody cared. But on voyages, I had seen what famine does; and I thought of all those men in Storm's End, who would die unmourned and forgotten. No better than Flea Bottom orphans.

I told his wife, and myself, that I'd get a high price for the onions and salt beef. In truth, I knew I'd be captured by the Tyrell galleys or drowned. But I was too stubborn.

Later that night, in the dark, in a tiny boat with a black sail, I cursed myself and the moonlight as I waited for the tide to turn.

When it did, the wind beat the sail so hard I ripped it down, fearing the Tyrell ships would hear. Luckily, they had grown lax.

With muffled oars, alone, I steered my cargo through the treacherous currents and snarls of rock that gave Shipbreaker Bay its name.

The waves finally carried me, soaked and near-blind from seawater, through the mouth of the cavern beneath the castle. Then Stannis Baratheon arrived.

The siege had left him gaunt, but not weak, never weak. He greeted me and accepted my onions with cool courtesy, betraying no emotion even as all wept.

He doled out the food to his wife and each of his men before he ate himself, a portion no larger than any other. When he finally thanked me, I could see his mind had already returned to the castle's defense. His duty.

After Aerys fell and Lord Stark lifted the siege, Stannis summoned me. For my salvation of Storm's End, I was to be granted a knighthood, a keep of my own, and my son taken into Stannis's personal service.

"Davos of Flea Bottom" had become "Ser Davos of House Seaworth," and my son would serve the king's own brother.

But for my previous crimes as a smuggler, I was to have the fingertips of one hand taken off above the highest joint. Stannis held that I had flouted the laws of the land for years, and a good act does not wash out the bad.

In one fell swoop, or five, Stannis gave my son a future and my family a name that I could've never imagined, nor earned, on my own.

I still keep the finger bones in a bag around my neck to remind me of what I was, and what I owe to Stannis.

For during my many years as a smuggler, I visited many ports, taverns, and back alleys, and saw many things in this world, but never justice. Until Stannis.


  • Davos says that Stannis took the fingers from his off-hand in "five swoops": this is an error. Stannis only cut off the tips of his "fingers" - narrowly defining "fingers" to exclude his thumb. In the TV series itself, Davos visibly still has his right thumb when he removes his gloves.



Noble houses




Margaery Tyrell's perspective

Margaery Tyrell: Some Great Houses call us upstarts, but the truth is that while the Starks and Lannisters fell to the Targaryens in defeat, House Tyrell rose.

For thousands of years, our family served as loyal stewards to the Kings of the Reach. Until the last of their line unwisely burned to death, resisting the Targaryen invaders.

To save the Reach from a similar fate, we yielded Highgarden to Aegon and his sisters. In gratitude, the Targaryens gave House Tyrell dominion over the Reach, and we became lords of the castle in which, for generations, we had served.

Under the Targaryen dynasty, Westeros prospered. Gone were the petty wars of Seven Kingdoms and the endless thirst for minor glories that drove them.

The Westerlands enriched the realm, the North guarded it, and the Reach and Riverlands fed it. This harmony is what Robert Baratheon shattered with his rebellion against Aerys Targaryen.

When the call to arms came, though, we did not want to answer. The Reach is a gentle land, and, honestly, the Mad King was not much loved. But we owed peace and status to his family.

My father, Mace Tyrell, called his banners and marched north to battle the rogue Storm Lord, Robert, who had already defeated three forces in a single day. And, at Ashford, my father won.

Some chasten my father for not pursuing Robert after the battle. We had cut him off from the Stormlands, the seat of his power, and he had fled north, within easy grasp of Lord Tywin Lannister, the Hand of Aerys for twenty years.

My father moved instead to lay siege of Robert's ancestral stronghold of Storm's End. The rose would strangle the stag as the lion pounced. So we waited. But the lion slumbered, and Robert slipped past the King's forces to join Ned Stark.

We could have lifted the siege and deployed our armies north to aid the Crown. We could have stormed the walls of the castle and made Robert homeless. But we had ample supplies, control of land and sea, and, most of all, patience.

Our siege would succeed, eventually, at little cost of life to us. If Robert prolonged the war with minor victories, our capture of Storm's End would hasten his downfall.

And if Robert won the war, well, it would not do for him to find us within his walls with the bodies of his brother Stannis and his sworn men.

When the lion finally showed his colors and "purged" King's Landing, we knew our cause was lost. My father chose the peaceful route and bent the knee to Robert, who heartily pardoned us. Strange, considering how we had beaten him and starved his brother to the brink of death.

We were to keep our lands, castle, and title, But we knew we would never be welcome at court. It didn't matter. The Reach was still the most fertile of the Seven Kingdoms and under our hand.

Every flower, even the rose, needs pruning. Then it grows strong.




Noble houses




Catelyn Stark's perspective

Catelyn Stark: "Family. Duty. Honor". Every Tully child learns our words, but I was a woman before I understood them.

Years before, my father had taken to foster the son of a wartime friend, a minor lord on the Fingers. The boy had arrived at our castle as Petyr Baelish. Due to his home and size, my brother soon named him "Littlefinger."

When I came of age, Brandon Stark of Winterfell sought and won my hand. To my father, Brandon was heir to the North and a suitable match for a daughter of House Tully. To me, Brandon was wild and terrifying, never far from laughter or trouble. I loved him with all the fire of a first passion; much, I came to realize, as Petyr loved me.

When Petyr heard of my engagement, he challenged Brandon to a duel. Petyr survived only because I begged Brandon not to kill him. I still thought of Petyr as family. Now, I wish I had let him die.

Only days before my wedding, when I thought I would be happy forever, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen abducted Brandon's sister, Lyanna. Hotblooded as always, Brandon immediately rode for King's Landing to demand justice, which the Mad King Aerys Targaryen gave him in his own twisted fashion.

The day the raven arrived with the news of my Brandon's death, I locked myself in my room and refused to eat for days, until my father reminded me of my duty.

I was to marry Eddard, Brandon's younger brother, a man whom I had never met, though of whom none spoke ill or spoke anything at all.

Our union would cement an alliance of the North, Vale, Stormlands, and Riverlands in rebellion against the Mad King. I was Tully. I did my duty. We were married quickly and were spared only one night before he had to return to the field.

I spent the war by the window, waiting for a raven to hear if my child would grow fatherless or at all. We knew the price of defeat. I scoured the kitchens and washing rooms for any and all gossip.

Robert had won and crushed the Mad King! Robert had lost, but Jaime Lannister was now king. Robert had almost won, but the Mad King had become a dragon and burned King's Landing to ash.

At night, I told herself the war would end soon and bring peace: either a victory or the grave.

I was wrong. Robert won and my husband avenged his brother and my love. But when he came home to me, he could not meet my eyes. I saw the reason by his side.

Many men have bastards, I know, and under the strain of war, any man, no matter how honorable, may forsake his vows for a night of warmth that he may never know again. But Ned Stark was not built like other men. His northern honor would not let him sequester his shame in some distant holdfast. He brought this boy, this "Jon Snow," home to raise with his trueborn children. My children.

Yet even these bitter memories are sweet now. They are all I have left of my Ned. Our family is broken and scattered, and our son must wage a war for the pieces.

We need to go home. The Starks are of the North, and, like the snows of winter, when they come south, they melt away.



Noble houses




In the books

  • The segment is adapted from the following chapters of A Game of Thrones:
    • Chapter 18, Catelyn IV: Catelyn tells about Littlefinger's background.
    • Chapter 40, Catelyn VII: Catelyn recalls the duel between Brandon Stark and Littlefinger.
  • The segment is adapted from the following chapter of A Clash of Kings:
    • Chapter 45, Catelyn VI: Catelyn recalls how delighted she was for being bethroted to Brandon Stark, and that Eddard was a total stranger to her when they married, yet she did her duty.

Varys and Petyr Baelish's perspectives

Varys: For three hundred years, the Targaryen dynasty ruled Westeros. Wars were still fought, homes still burned and men still died, but compared to the chaos of what came before, the realm was stable.

Petyr Baelish: And boring. The Targaryens lied, killed, and thieved as much as other lords. They just had dragons to answer all complaints. Until they didn't.

When the last dragon died, it was only a matter of time before the Targaryens followed.

Varys: By "only," you mean another century?

Baelish: Which they wasted trying to replace their lost advantage: incinerating their own palaces to hatch dragon eggs, drinking wildfire to become dragons, and, let's not forget the Mad King's favorite, burning men alive so he could pretend to be a dragon.

Varys: We urged Aerys to pardon Brandon Stark. The boy had threatened Prince Rhaegar, but Rhaegar had stolen the boy's sister, and the boy was the eldest son of our Warden of the North.

Baelish: Who is the greater fool: a mad king or the man who reasons with him? Aerys saw knives in every shadow.

When you told him to treat the Starks with caution, you made him afraid and what he feared he killed.

Varys: I wouldn't have thought you of all people would bother with recriminations for Brandon's death, Lord Baelish. Not after your, shall we call it, "duel" with him?

Baelish: Brandon was as arrogant as he was stupid; like his father, Lord Stark, who answered Aerys' summon to the capital. They earned their fates. But the younger son, Ned, what was his crime? That Aerys ordered his death as well?

Varys: Unlike men, families do not die when you lop off their head.

Baelish: At the very least, you should have pointed out that loyal and dutiful Ned was living with Jon Arryn, a proud and over-righteous lord with an impregnable castle and no sons of his own. Perhaps you could have spared Aerys the "embarrassment" of revolt.

Varys: If only we'd had the foresight to consult you, Lord Baelish, but I suppose first we'd have had to know who you were.

Baelish: Nobody knew Robert Baratheon either, yet he claimed the right to sit on the Iron Throne.

Varys: He had Targaryen blood through his mother.

Baelish: A pretty dress for an ugly truth: it was war; and he could swing a hammer harder than the other options. When did you know you'd lost, Lord Varys?

Varys: When Robert Baratheon killed Prince Rhaegar on the Trident.

Baelish: Wrong. You lost the war when you let Ned Stark slip back into the North. Neither the Bloody Gate of the Vale or Moat Cailin in the North have ever fallen. They could have held out for years even if you'd killed Robert, but you let him slip through your fingers as well.

Varys: I told the court that Robert was hiding in the Stoney Sept, but the Hand of the King wasted too much time searching the city. Something about the glory of single combat. Then Ned Stark's army arrived to save the day.

Baelish: Too bad Lord Tywin wasn't Hand any longer. He would have simply razed the town and been done with it.

Varys: Perhaps. And perhaps the rebels would have found even more of the countryside flocking to their banners.

Baelish: I'd almost forgotten. You weren't always so loyal to the Lannisters during the war, were you?

Varys: I did my duty to the realm. When Lord Tywin showed up at King's Landing professing loyalty, I warned Aerys not to open the gates. Prince Rhaegar was dead, our army scattered. "The lion does not stir unless he smells meat."

Baelish: I admire your powers of persuasion, Lord Varys. Few could traffic on so many secrets to so little avail.

Varys: Grand Maester Pycelle told Aerys what he wanted to hear, that his old friend Tywin was there to save him.

Baelish: Then Aerys's "old friend" sacked the city, and his son stabbed Aerys in the back.

Varys: A regrettable though necessary action.

Baelish: As were the pardons the new King Robert bestowed upon the royalists: Mace Tyrell, Barristan Selmy, you.

Varys: King Robert wisely chose order over vengeance.

Baelish: Jon Arryn wisely chose for Robert. But Jon Arryn died, then Robert, then Ned. So ended their glorious revolution.

Varys: And Westeros has been burning ever since.

Baelish: Let it.

Varys: How Targaryen of you. One of the mad ones.

Baelish: Fire turns even the proudest oaks to ash, leaving newer roots space to climb.


  • A point which might cause some confusion is that Varys says that "we" warned King Aerys, which some might mistake to imply that Littlefinger was also on the small council at the time. However, later in the video, Varys makes a separate jab that no one at court even knew who Baelish was at the time because he was still a minor lord living in the Vale, so this is not a change from the books.
  • A rather large break with book continuity is introduced by this segment. In Season 1 episode "Baelor", Maester Aemon stated that Aerys was his brother's son, not his brother's grandson. In the books, Aemon's younger brother Aegon V Targaryen became king (after Aemon refused the crown due to his vows), and was later succeeded by his son Jaehaerys II, a good but physically frail man who died after ruling only three years. King Aerys II and Queen Rhaella Targaryen were the children of Jaehaerys II. Aemon's statements in the TV series, however, seemed to skip Jaehaerys II. The TV writers later confirmed that Jaehaerys II has indeed been omitted from the TV continuity - they have not stated why, but possibly just to simplify the relationship between Aemon and Daenerys. The major problem this change introduced is that House Baratheon intermarried with House Targaryen in that generation: Aegon V's daughter (and Jaehaerys II's sister) Rhaelle Targaryen married the lord of House Baratheon, and their son was Steffon Baratheon, the father of Robert, Stannis, and Renly. Robert Baratheon's entire claim to the throne was based on the technicality that he had Targaryen blood through Rhaelle (though even this video points out that it was a pretext and he won the crown through warfare). Though no information was ever given on-screen, the prop of the book The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms in Season 1 does establish that Rhaelle Targaryen existed in the TV continuity as well and married a lord of House Baratheon, though she married Lyonel Baratheon and not his son Ormund Baratheon (as she did in the books). Despite this, the Season 1 animated featurettes even somewhat implied that in order to simplify the story, Robert's "Targaryen blood" came purely from Orys Baratheon, the founder of House Baratheon and rumored bastard half-brother of Aegon the Conqueror (which would be complicated, given that Orys is widely believed to have been Aegon's half-brother, but this was never proven). In either scenario, the Targaryen bloodline passed through Robert's father Steffon. In this video, however, Varys clearly states that Robert possessed Targaryen blood "through his mother" - Cassana Baratheon, born into House Estermont. It is unclear how to reconcile this new information. It is possible in the TV continuity that Cassana Estermont had Targaryen blood through her mother.
  • The unnamed Hand of the King who failed to capture Robert, to whom Varys and Littlefinger refer, is Jon Connington. According to Connington's inner monologue in the fifth novel, as Varys correctly comments, he indeed wasted too much time searching for Robert because he wanted the glory of slaying Robert in single combat.
  • Littlefinger comments that Tywin, had he been in Connington's place, would have razed the town, thus put an end to the rebellion. In the novels, it was Ser Myles Toyne, a former captain-general of the Golden Company, who said to Connington that Tywin "would have burned that town and every living creature in it". Connington, however, refrained from such act due to the aforementioned reason, and also because he did not want to gain the reputation of a butcher. Years later, in retrospect, Connington thinks Myles was right, although - as Varys comments - such cruel deed might have severely shamed the royal side in the war; more lords might have gone over to the rebels in protest.



Noble houses




In the books

  • The segment is adapted from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:

Oberyn Martell's perspective

Oberyn Martell: Twice the Targaryens tried to conquer Dorne with soldiers. Twice they failed.

Only when the dragon kings came bearing husbands and wives did my ancestors relent and agree to join their Seven Kingdoms. House Martell could have waged war until the end of days, but how could we resist a peace we could take to bed?

For centuries, the Iron Throne had no more loyal ally than the Princes of Dorne. Since the Martells had never fallen to them, we kept our ancestral title. Perhaps this is what drew Rhaegar Targaryen to us.

His royal parents had not produced a sister for him to wed, so he had to look elsewhere for a princess, and there was only one in Westeros. Elia of House Martell, my sister.

She was not the most beautiful woman in the world or even in Dorne. But, rare for a woman from our land, her flower came with no thorns. She was kind and clever with a gentle heart. I loved her. I feared for her.

For years, I fended off lesser men from her. But when Rhaegar came, even I failed.

He was beautiful, and the crown prince of the Seven Kingdoms. And our mother had worked so hard to secure the match. How could Elia not accept it?

They were wed, and he took Elia from her home, from those who loved her and would die for her and locked her in his Red Keep above his sty of a city surrounded by false friends. She bore him a daughter and a son, though each almost cost her her life.

Elia loved Rhaegar, she obeyed him, and he chose to steal away Lyanna Stark, a pale northern girl whose veins ran with ice like all of her people. Instead of disciplining his faithless son, King Aerys executed the Starks when they came seeking justice and ignited a revolt.

I know how the maesters describe the war now but calling it "Robert's Rebellion" does not change what it was. The War of the Usurper.

Dorne sided with the Crown, for when we swear oaths, we keep them. We needed no threats from King Aerys, though he made them anyway, locking Elia and her children in the Red Keep to ensure our loyalty.

Even in his madness, he knew that no true Dornishman would ever take up arms against our beloved princess and that we would fight to the death for whatever side she was on.

At the Trident, Dorne lost ten thousand men and two princes. My uncle in the Kingsguard and Elia's gallant husband Prince Rhaegar, who was too slow or too arrogant for Robert's war hammer.

As Robert's army marched on King's Landing, the Mad King sent his own wife and child away but kept my sister and hers inside.

In his madness, Aerys thought the Dornish had betrayed his son at the Trident and was only too happy to welcome his one true friend back into his ranks. Tywin Lannister.

Lord Tywin's army sacked his friend's city while Lord Tywin's son murdered the king he had sworn to protect.

All of this could have been forgiven. War is terrible, and men must become terrible to wage it. But the Lannisters knew that as long as Elia and her children, Prince Rhaegar's heirs, lived, no usurper could safely sit the Throne.

So Lord Tywin's dog, "Ser" Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, made Elia watch as he murdered her daughter and dashed her infant son's head against a wall.

Then with her baby's blood still on his hands, he raped Elia and murdered her. When Lord Tywin later presented their bodies to Robert Baratheon wrapped in pretty Lannister cloaks, I have been told the red color graciously hid the blood from men's eyes.

The Targaryens talk of fire and blood. In Dorne, our blood is fire. If Robert Baratheon had dared set foot in Dorne during his reign, he would have lost the foot. And it is not even him we blame for Elia.

The Lannisters think their gold buys them power. The Lannisters think their Mountain buys them strength. But if they want peace, they cannot buy it with mountains of gold or one Mountain of steel. They must pay in blood.



Noble houses




Barristan Selmy's perspective

Barristan Selmy: "Barristan the Bold" they call me to my face. I know what they say behind my back; Barristan the Old.

That is true; I am old, with hair as white as all the winters I have seen. The older a man grows, the less sleep he needs. These days I barely sleep at all.

When darkness falls over this strange city, I find myself visited by the faces of the kings I have served. The faces of those I swore to protect. The faces of those I failed.

All I ever wanted was to live a life of honor, defending a king worthy of service. During the War of the Ninepenny Kings, I sought out Maelys the Monstrous, last of the Blackfyre Pretenders, who had started this whole war.

Maelys believed that his Targaryen blood gave him a claim to the Iron Throne. I made sure that his blood claimed nothing more than the dirt around his corpse. To show his gratitude, the King elevated me to his Kingsguard. It was the proudest moment of my life.

But that king died, and I wasn't with him. Not that I could have saved him if I had been. But still, I vowed to do better with his son, young Prince Aerys.

For twenty years, his reign was peaceful and prosperous. Aerys was well-loved by his people and respected by his lords.

But as years went on, Aerys' temper soured. He became obsessed with dragons and fire, and the swords of the Kingsguard couldn't defend him from the enemies he saw lurking in every shadow. My king went mad.

But there was hope; his son and heir. Prince Rhaegar was everything a kingdom could hope for in a ruler; he was strong but gentle, wise and cautious, and a good friend.

No matter the wounds Aerys dug into the realm, we had faith that his son would sew it back together again when he ascended the throne.

Then came Lord Whent's tourney at Harrenhal, the largest ever in Westeros. I unhorsed every man against me until only Prince Rhaegar remained. We each set our feet in our saddles and lowered our lances and charged, and I fell.

Muddy and bruised, I then watched Rhaegar present Lyanna Stark with the victor's crown of roses, though she was betrothed to Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar himself was married to Elia Martell.

We all know what happened after. If I had I been a bit quicker with my lance, had I chosen a faster horse, perhaps I could have spared the kingdom from the destruction that came after.

Or if I had thought to warn Brandon Stark against his rashness. He came to King's Landing himself demanding Rhaegar return his sister. Poor fool. If he had only known the depth of Aerys' madness, he wouldn't have dared provoke him.

Aerys ordered Brandon imprisoned, while I could do nothing but obey. When Brandon's father, Lord Rickard Stark, came to King's Landing to beg for his son, Aerys burned him alive, while I could do nothing but watch.

I had sworn a vow to a mad king and was honor-bound to obey him, even at the cost of my soul.

Ravens soon arrived with dark news for the king; the Vale was in open revolt. Demanding Lyanna Stark's return, Robert Baratheon was smashing any army that dared face him.

Eddard Stark, Brandon's younger brother, was marching the whole of the North down the Neck and had taken Catelyn Tully, Brandon's betrothed, for his own, thus winning the support of the Riverlands. The king sent ravens to Casterly Rock to beg his former Hand, Tywin Lannister, for help, and no ravens returned.

A plan was devised; Prince Rhaegar would personally lead the royal forces, now reinforced with ten thousand Dornishmen, north to face Robert, while the Kingsguard, Lewyn Martell and I, would ride with the prince.

Before we left, the prince confided in me that when he returned from this battle, there would be a great many changes in court. Despite my vows to the king, I confess I was excited.

On the march to face Robert's army, we were sure we would win. We had superior numbers and we had Prince Rhaegar. His presence lifted the spirits of our men and he looked every inch the king he was destined to become.

But at the Trident the gods played a cruel joke. Robert proved the Baratheon words as his army smashed through our lines.

Lewyn Martell was killed, I fell in combat badly wounded and could do nothing but watch as Robert's war hammer ended Rhaegar's glorious reign before it began, and the kingdom that would never be washed away down the Trident with his life's blood. Yet Robert spared me, insisting his personal maester tend to my wounds out of respect.

But respect for what? A Kingsguard shouldn't survive one king, let alone two, and one who should have been. I swore an oath to House Targaryen, and I failed them.

All that is left of their fire is a single ember halfway across the world, surrounded by darkness. If the gods were good, I would still be young in the fullness of strength. But whatever the cost, I will not let this ember go out. This time I will not fail.


  • Barristan says in the video that before riding out to the Battle of the Trident, Prince Rhaegar told him in private that "a great many things" would change in King's Landing if they won and defeated Robert - heavily implying to him that he intended to remove his own father King Aerys from the throne, due to his insanity tearing the realm apart. In the novels, Rhaegar actually said this to Jaime Lannister, who was also in the Kingsguard: Jaime felt his place was at Rhaegar's side but the Mad King demanded he remain at the royal court (as a glorified political hostage to deter his father Tywin from siding with the rebels). Jaime begged Rhaegar to rescind his father's command, but Rhaegar didn't want to appear insolent to his father so he couldn't. Wavering, Rhaegar told Jaime he wished he had done something about his father's growing insanity sooner, but it is a hard thing to turn on your own father, and he never thought it would get this bad until it already did (after his father had already killed Rickard and Brandon Stark in a fit of madness). Rhaegar even mentioned to Jaime that he considered calling for a Great Council - an assembly of the great lords of the realm called to sort out a succession crisis, rarely convened (though one was called to put Aegon V on the throne), which very strongly indicates he had been mulling if he should take steps to remove his father from the throne before his insanity destroyed their dynasty. Rhaegar then admitted that it wasn't worth worrying about the path not taken and what he might have done, and he was stuck in the position he was in now - then he departed for the Trident. Though the novels depicted Rhaegar saying this to Jaime (in flashback in one of Jaime's POV chapters), there is nothing to say he didn't also tell Barristan as one of his other trusted Kingsguard (if anything, Rhaegar would have been more likely to tell Barristan, given that Jaime had only been in the Kingsguard for a year and some considered his loyalties divided).
  • This video answers a longstanding question raised in Season 1 about when the War of the Ninepenny Kings took place. In the novels, Aerys II "the Mad King" was the grandson of King Aegon V, not his son. Aegon V's son was King Jaehaerys II, who was a good but sickly man who only ruled for three years before dying young, at which he was succeeded by his son Aerys II. Season 1 of the TV series had Aegon V's brother Maester Aemon state that Aerys II was Aegon V's son, however, and the writers have directly confirmed in interviews that this was an intentional change (apparently to simplify the story due to Jaehaerys II's brief reign, possibly to simplify the relationship between Aemon and Aerys II's daughter Daenerys). In the novels, however, the War of the Ninepenny Kings occurred during Jaehaerys II's reign - and indeed broke out after Aegon V died because Maelys Blackfyre saw this as the opportune time to strike, while the new king was unfamiliar in power. By removing Jaehaerys II, the war would have had to occur either at the end of Aegon V's reign, or at the beginning of Aerys II's reign after Aegon V died (similar to why it occurred in the novels). This video firmly establishes that in the TV continuity, the War of the Ninepenny Kings occurred in the final years of Aegon V's reign.
    • A practical result is that in the TV continuity, Barristan was elevated to the Kingsguard by Aegon V, not Jaehaerys II - though either way, the point stands that he was in the Kingsguard before Aerys II was king. The novels specify that Barristan was earlier knighted by Aegon V himself after a tournament at King's Landing.



Noble houses




In the books

Jaime Lannister's perspective

Jaime Lannister: Kingslayer. A word every man and woman in Westeros spits at me, though many can't name the king I slayed.

I understand. To them, I'm a symbol of everything they'll never have and a warning that'll never apply. So they can loathe me from the safety of their small lives. But when a dog goes mad, we put it down. Why not a king?

I was never supposed to be on the Kingsguard. Oh, as a boy, I dreamed of the white cloak like all boys. But I was heir to Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King. If he forbade the tides, the waves would cease.

Then I was fifteen, and my father was congratulating me on my new knighthood in the Red Keep. I wonder if that was the last time he was proud of me.

That night, there was a knock on my door, and I'd opened it to find my sister Cersei disguised as a simple serving girl. I hadn't seen her since my father took her to court when she was twelve. She had grown up. As had I.

She told me that my father planned to marry me off to Lysa Tully. But she could arrange for the king to raise me to the Kingsguard so I could stay in the city with her. All I had to do was agree.

I made the obvious objections. Our family, our father, Casterly Rock. Until she asked, "Is it a rock you want, or me?" Come morning, she had my consent.

I would join the Kingsguard for her. I would forswear my lands and title for her. I would forsake our family for her.

Soon, a royal raven commanded my father to present me to the King during the Great Tourney at Harrenhal to say my vows. My father erupted in fury.

He could not object openly, but he resigned the Handship and returned to Casterly Rock, taking Cersei with him. Instead of being together, Cersei and I exchanged places. Then, everything started to fall apart.

At Harrenhal, King Aerys made a great show of my investiture. I knelt before him in gleaming armor and swore the oath of the Kingsguard.

Once Ser Gerold Hightower raised me up and put the white cloak on my shoulders, a roar went up from the crowd. I admit, despite my father's anger, I was happy. And foolish.

That very night, Aerys soured, commanding me to return to the Red Keep to guard the queen and little Prince Viserys.

Ser Gerold offered to take that duty himself so I might compete in the tourney, but Aerys refused. "He'll win no glory here," the king said. "He's mine now, not Tywin's. He'll serve as I see fit."

That was when I understood. It was not my skill or valor that had won me this honor. The Mad King had chosen me to spite my father and steal his heir. I wanted to rip off the white cloak, but it was too late.

A Kingsguard serves for life.

So I upheld my oath, confined to the Red Keep where Varys could watch me and where the headsman could find me if my father displeased the king.

I served at the king's pleasure as he burned Rickard Stark alive and strangled his son, inciting the rebellion. I defended the king's honor against courtiers as his generals lost battle after battle with Robert.

I kept the king's secrets when his pyromancers hid caches of wildfire beneath King's Landing.

I gave the king counsel when my father's army was at the city gate, and Grand Maester Pycelle lied that my father had come to save him. Many forget that I also tried to defend the king from harm.

When the Lannister soldiers poured through the gates, it fell to me to hold the Red Keep as the only Kingsguard in the city. I knew we were lost and sent to Aerys, asking his leave to make terms.

My man came back with the royal command. "Bring me your father's head if you are no traitor." Aerys would have no yielding. His pyromancer was with him, my messenger said.

I knew what that meant. Aerys Targaryen was alone in his throne room when I found him, picking at his scabbed and bleeding hands. The fool was always cutting himself on the Iron Throne. "Burn them! Burn them!" he kept muttering.

Aerys had decided to let Robert be king, after all, over the charred bones and ashes of King's Landing.

He must have thought his pyromancer was near enough to obey him, but I'd killed him a few minutes before in the courtyard.

As I approached the throne, sanity flashed behind the King's eyes for a moment, just long enough to read the look in mine. His eyes grew huge, and the royal mouth drooped open in shock. He turned and ran.

A single thrust was all it took to end the greatest dynasty the world had ever seen. Beneath the empty eyes of the dead dragons on the walls, the last dragon king squealed like a pig and shat himself.

So easy, I thought. A king should die harder than this.

My father's knights burst into the hall in time to see the last of it, so there was no way for me to vanish and let some bragger steal the glory or blame. I knew at once when I saw the way they looked at me.

It would be blame. Lannister or no, I'd been one of Aerys' Kingsguard.

I commanded them to announce that the Mad King was dead and to spare all those who yielded. They asked me if they should proclaim a new king as well. I knew what they meant.

Would it be my father, or Robert Baratheon, or maybe the child Viserys who'd fled to Dragonstone?

A Targaryen boy king with my father as Hand to rule in truth. I thought of how Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon would howl at this end to their great heroic war, and I was tempted.

Then I glanced down again at Aerys, his life's blood oozing from the wound and pooling on the floor around him.

"Proclaim who you bloody well like," I said. I climbed the steps to the Iron Throne and sat on it with my sword across my knees, waiting to see who would come to claim the kingdom.


  • This video again brings up the inconsistency about exactly how old Jaime was when he was elevated to the Kingsguard. In Season 2's episode "The Prince of Winterfell" Tyrion says he was 17, but according to "The Kingsguard" and to Jaime's entry in The Book of Brothers ("Oathkeeper") - he was 16. This video uses the number given in the novels, in which he was stated to be 15 when he joined the Kingsguard, not keeping track of prior changes introduced in the TV continuity.
  • Cersei's actions in the video match those in the books, and if they don't make sense, it is simply an example of Cersei's short-sightedness: it seemingly never occurred to her that her father Tywin would be so furious at his firstborn son and heir abdicating that he would resign and leave the capital, taking Cersei with him.
  • Jaime mentions that Tywin originally planned to make Jaime enter into an arranged marriage with Lysa Tully. Noble families usually try to marry their children into other powerful noble families to forge political alliances. The specific marriages and betrothals leading up to Robert's Rebellion, however, have led to a popular theory about "southron ambitions"—a phrase used by Barbrey Dustin to Theon Greyjoy in A Dance with Dragons—in which the Great Houses had turned against the Targaryens and wanted to build up political alliances for a looming confrontation with them.
    • Arguments for the theory are that relations between the Targaryens and Iron Throne had worsened since the days of Aegon V, whose reforms were unpopular with powerful aristocrats, and who allowed his children to refuse vital political marriages (spurning the Baratheons, Tullys, and Tyrells). At the least, Aerys II's increasing insanity in recent decades made many of them grow wary. The argument that it was an outright conspiracy points to the fact that it is not very common for the Great Houses to intermarry, at least not within the last century; they usually marry into the great vassal houses in their own regions to bind them together (the Starks with the Flints, the Lannisters with the Marbrands, etc.). Arguments against the theory are that it was simply common sense for Great Houses to seek the most powerful prospective suitors from other Great Houses.
    • It's also possible that these political marriages were intended, at least by some, to aid Rhaegar in siding against his own insane father.
    • The originally planned betrothals were that Eddard's older brother Brandon would marry Catelyn Tully, her younger sister Lysa Tully would marry Jaime Lannister, and Lyanna Stark would marry Robert Baratheon - thus building up a Stark-Baratheon-Tully-Lannister alliance linked by marriage and blood. The Arryns would also probably be on their side because both Eddard and Robert viewed Jon Arryn like a second father and had been his wards for years. They may have even hoped against direct confrontation with the crown but to take it over, given that Tywin also wanted to marry Cersei to Rhaegar Targaryen. Of the remaining three Great Houses, with Rhaegar married to Elia Martell instead, Dorne was tied to the Targaryens; the Tyrells depended on the Targaryens for legitimizing their rule over the Reach, even without political marriages (such as over their rival House Florent), and the Greyjoys usually did not participate in mainland politics.
    • Within a matter of months, these marriage plans were seriously disrupted: Jaime's appointment to the Kingsguard ruined a Lannister-Tully marriage pact, then Rhaegar's interaction with Lyanna Stark disrupted the Stark-Baratheon match.
    • When the war broke out and Brandon was killed, the matches were reshuffled to bind together the rebels: Catelyn Tully married Eddard Stark while Lysa Tully married Jon Arryn, then after Lyanna's death Robert Baratheon married Cersei Lannister. Robert later hoped to finish binding the realm together by marrying his eldest son Joffrey to Eddard's daughter Sansa, explicitly to unite their families as he felt might have happened between himself and Lyanna.
  • According to the novels, the unnamed "my father's knights" to whom Jaime refers, are Lord Roland Crakehall and Ser Elys Westerling.
  • According to the novels, when asked if a new king should be proclaimed, Jaime was tempted to name either Viserys or baby Aegon (Jaime had no idea he was killed by the Mountain); however, when he glanced at Aerys's body, he thought "his blood is in both of them", namely that either of them might become a ruthless lunatic monster like Aerys. This reason is not mentioned in the segment.



Noble houses




In the books

  • The segment is adapted from the following chapters of A Storm of Swords:
    • Chapter 11, Jaime II: Jaime recalls how Cersei persuaded him to join the Kingsguard; his father's furious reaction and subsequent resignation; the killing of Aerys; what he said when was asked whether a new king should be proclaimed.
    • Chapter 44, Jaime VI: Jaime recalls how he became a member of the Kingsguard, the short-lived joy he felt, and his great disappointment when he realized Aerys did it to spite his father and rob him of his heir.