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"Robert's Rebellion - Barristan Selmy"[a] is the eighth short of the fifth season of Histories & Lore. It is the eighty-third short of the series overall. It was released on March 15, 2016 in Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season. It was narrated by Ian McElhinney as Barristan Selmy and written by Dave Hill.


Barristan Selmy details how Robert's Rebellion was a pivotal war for House Targaryen and resulted in the end of their reign of power.[3]


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.








Behind the scenes[]

  • This is the ninth of ten shorts on Robert's Rebellion.
  • Barristan says in the short 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 short 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 short 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.

In the books[]


  1. HBOWatch Staff (October 7, 2015). Game of Thrones Season 5 Available on Blu-ray, DVD March 15, 2016. HBO Watch. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  2. Histories & Lore: Season 5, Short 8: "Robert's Rebellion - Barristan Selmy" (2016).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season (2016).
  4. Vanessa Cole (July 22, 2017). Game of Thrones writer Dave Hill gives a behind the scenes look at the creative process. Watchers on the Wall. Retrieved December 15, 2023.


  1. In Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season, this short is simply titled "Robert's Rebellion."