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"The Defiance of Duskendale" is part of the Histories & Lore, a special feature from Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season.[1] It is narrated by Conleth Hill as Varys.

Synopsis

Varys explains the details of the Defiance of Duskendale and how this event forever changed Aerys II Targaryen for the worst.

Narration

Varys: The coin of Aerys, Second of His Name, had landed on madness.

But half the coins of the Targaryens had landed so. Yet only Aerys would be known as the Mad King, thanks, in no small part, to the Defiance of Duskendale.

Duskendale was the greatest port on Blackwater Bay until Aegon built King's Landing. As the capital grew richer and more prosperous, it sucked ships and gold away from Duskendale.

To halt its long decline, the Lord of Duskendale, Ser Denys Darklyn, petitioned King Aerys for a royal charter that would allow him to levy his own port fees and taxes, which would obviously be lower than in King's Landing. The Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister, refused.

But knowing of the tension between the Hand and its king, Ser Denys invited the king to Duskendale to evaluate his petition himself rather than deferring to his Hand. When Tywin admonished the king to refuse, as any sensible advisor would, a petulant and bristling Aerys instead accepted, traveling to Duskendale with a small retinue and only one of his Kingsguard.

As soon as Aerys stepped within the city, Ser Denys seized him, killing the Kingsguard and the few others who dared to defend their king. Aerys was hauled to the dungeons to have his beard pulled and have other petty cruelties inflicted on his royal person.

Lord Tywin immediately raised an army and marched on Duskendale, but Ser Denys threatened to kill the king at the first signs of an assault. If Ser Denys hoped to force Tywin to offer terms, he didn't know Lord Tywin, who refused to even parley until Ser Denys released the king and surrendered. 

The royal army surrounded the city, and the royal navy blockaded it. Ser Denys had clearly not anticipated such obstinacy.

Nor that the king's Hand would be in no rush to save the maddening king, when, as Lord Tywin himself pointed out, the realm had a better option in the king's much more stable son, Prince Rhaegar.

After six months, Lord Tywin's patience was at an end. Or, at least, none could claim he acted recklessly if he now stormed the city, and Ser Denys killed the king.

But the dutiful and honorable Ser Barristan the Bold volunteered to infiltrate the city and rescue his king single-handedly, as befit his Kingsguard oath.

Tywin couldn't refuse such valor publicly and so begrudged Ser Barristan one night. Then he would storm the city and put every man, woman, and child to the sword.

With only his hands, Ser Barristan climbed the city walls in the dark of night and snuck through the city disguised as a beggar, evading patrols and suspicious townspeople. When he reached the walls of the city keep, the Dun Fort, he scaled those by hand as well, even dispatching the wall guard before he could sound an alarm. With incredible bravery and luck, Ser Barristan made his way to the dungeons and freed his king.

Then Ser Barristan's luck ran out. 

A cry went up through the castle. Someone had discovered the king was gone. With horns and trumpets blaring an alarm, Ser Barristan cut their way to the stables, avenging his slain Kingsguard brother but taking an arrow to his chest. Slipping through the castle gate just as it closed, the wounded Ser Barristan and Aerys rode through the roused town, racing for the city walls and, beyond it, the safety of the royal army.

Lord Tywin's archers raced forward to clear the walls of defenders, and Ser Barristan the Bold earned immortality by delivering King Aerys to the waiting, if not welcoming, arms of his Hand. 

Without his hostage, Ser Denys surrendered and begged mercy from the same king he'd imprisoned. Most men would have had none. Aerys had less. He commanded Ser Denys be executed along with man, woman, or child who bore his family name and anyone who once had.

As for Ser Denys's foreign wife, who had urged his defiance, Aerys commanded that her tongue and womanly parts be torn out, and she be burned alive.

It was his first time passing such a sentence. It must have given him a taste for it. For the king rescued from Duskendale was not the same king who'd entered it.

Many men would crack after six months in a dark cell, being mocked, prodded, and tweaked. Aerys had arrived cracked. Now he was shattered. 

For years, he would refuse to leave the Red Keep. Encouraged no doubt by his worried advisors, since he also refused to allow any blades near his person, even to shave his beard, cut his hair, and trim his nails.

He began to see enemies in every shadow, who vanished only when the fires burned. 

Notes

  • Chronologically, this video happens right before "The Great Tourney at Harrenhal", from the Season 5 Histories & Lore set. As the video explains, while Aerys was already having bouts of insanity, it got drastically worse after the stress of his imprisonment, after which he retreated from court life, and stopped cutting his hair and nails. No one saw Aerys in public again until four years later, when he came to the huge tournament held at Harrenhal (out of fear that Rhaegar was using the event to recruit lords for a coup against him). His bizarre appearance and behavior at the tourney only served to shock the major lords of the realm even more, who up until that time weren't aware how far he was sliding into insanity.
  • The opening image of the video contains an art error: it depicts Gold Dragon coins with the king's face on one side, and a sept (church) on the opposite side. The novels describe what Currency looks like in Westeros: the face of the current monarch on one side, and an image of a dragon stamped in gold on the other - this is why they are called "Gold Dragons". None of the other types of coins have an image of a building on them either: Silver Stags have the monarch on one side and a stag on the other side (stamped in silver) and Copper Pennies have the monarch on one side, and the seven-pointed star on the other side (stamped in copper).
  • The video doesn't specify this, but King Aerys's decree to execute all members of House Darklyn, including all of their retainers, also resulted in the destruction of House Hollard - except for a single survivor, Dontos Hollard. Dontos was just an infant at the time, so Barristan pleaded with the king to spare his life - and given that Barristan had just personally rescued Aerys in a stunning act of bravery, he grudgingly granted his request.
  • This video accurately depicts the Heraldry of House Darklyn: "Fusily sable and or, upon a pale in dexter gules seven escutcheons argent" - that is, the main field has narrow diagonal checkers (fusily), alternating between black and gold; in addition to this, it has a vertical band (a "pale") on the wearer's right-hand (dexter) side (but the left side of an onlooker), and this vertical band is red, with seven silver shields on it. The video's artist probably used fansites for reference, as they have done before (it has the exact same arrangement as the one in Westeros.org's database).
  • Details about the Defiance of Duskendale were previously seen in the main TV series in the Season 4 premiere "Two Swords": when flipping through the The Book of Brothers, which records all the deeds of each Kingsguard. The page on Gwayne Gaunt displays his family heraldry, and explains how he died when King Aerys was captured.

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Reference

  1. BBFC | GAME OF THRONES S8 EC [Additional material,Season 8,Histories & Lore S8]
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