Arrest of Eddard Stark

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Arrest of Eddard Stark
King's Landing CoupLukasz Jaskolski.jpg
King's Landing Coup, by Lukasz Jaskolski © Fantasy Flight Games
Conflict War of the Five Kings
Date late 298 AC or early 299 AC[1]
Place Red Keep, King's Landing

House Lannister victory

Coronation of Joffrey Baratheon
House Lannister.svg House Lannister House Baratheon.svg Iron Throne/House Baratheon of King's Landing:
House Baratheon of King's Landing.svg King Joffrey I Baratheon
House Lannister.svg Queen Cersei Lannister
House Baelish of Harrenhal.svg Lord Petyr Baelish (switches sides)
City Watch of King's Landing.svg Commander Janos Slynt (switches sides)
Kingsguard.svgSer Meryn Trant
House Stark.svg Lord Eddard Stark
20 House Lannister guards
5 Kingsguard
100 gold cloaks
Sandor Clegane
23 House Stark guards[N 1]
1 Lannister guard†
Septa Mordane
Syrio Forel
Vayon Poole
Eddard Stark (POW)
Jacks (POW)
Jeyne Poole (POW)
Sansa Stark (POW)

The arrest of Eddard Stark is an event which occurs in King's Landing at the start of the War of the Five Kings.


After the unexpected death of the Hand of the King, Lord Jon Arryn, King Robert I Baratheon journeys north to Winterfell with the royal family and half his court, to ask his boyhood friend, Lord Eddard Stark, to be his new Hand.[2] Eddard agrees and journeys south to King's Landing.[3]

Once in the capital, Lord Eddard investigates the death of his predecessor.[4][5] He finds out that the king's three children, Prince Joffrey, Princess Myrcella, and Prince Tommen Baratheon, are in fact bastards from Queen Cersei Lannister's affair with her twin brother, Ser Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard.[6]

Lord Stark decides to tell the truth to his friend, but he is too late as Robert is dying due to an hunting accident in the kingswood with a boar.[7] On his deathbed, Robert names Eddard Protector of the Realm and Lord Regent. Eddard alters Robert's will, changing Joffrey's name for "the heir".[7]

Eddard intends for his daughters, Sansa and Arya, to escape King's Landing on Wind Witch, and he instructs Tomard with personally delivering a letter to Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone, during the ship's voyage to the north.[7] Sansa, who is betrothed to Prince Joffrey, informs Cersei that she is going to be sent away.[8]

While Robert lies dying, Lord Renly Baratheon approaches Eddard and suggests they seize control of the royal children before Queen Cersei can strike.[7] Eddard refuses the offer, however, and instead meets with Lord Petyr Baelish, master of coin. Littlefinger agrees to bribe the City Watch of King's Landing so that Janos Slynt and his gold cloaks will support Eddard against Cersei.[7]


The day Wind Witch is to set sail, King Robert passes away from his wounds in the morning. Eddard calls the small council to the Tower of the Hand, but Renly has fled King's Landing along with Ser Loras Tyrell and fifty retainers. Joffrey Baratheon, as King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, demands the presence of the council.[9]

A paper shield, by Michael Dixon © Fantasy Flight Games

Tomard's men escort Lord Stark to the throne room, where the Hand is reassured that the gold cloaks outnumber Cersei's red cloaks five to one. Cersei tears up Robert's will, shocking Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Eddard refuses Cersei's offer that he submit to Joffrey, insisting instead that Joffrey has no claim to the Iron Throne and that Stannis is Robert's true heir.[9]

When Eddard calls upon the gold cloaks to take Cersei and her children into custody, the City Watch instead begin attacking Ned's grey cloaks. Tomard is stabbed in the back with a spear, and Janos cuts open Varly's throat. Cayn tries to escape, but he is struck down by Joffrey's sworn shield, Sandor Clegane. Petyr claims the Valyrian steel dagger from Ned and takes him into custody.[9]

Meanwhile, Cersei sends her supporters to kill or apprehend the rest of unsuspecting Eddard's retinue in the Red Keep. Sansa, already taken to confinement in Maegor's Holdfast by Ser Arys Oakheart, hears the fighting from afar. Sandor breaks down Jeyne Poole's door in the Tower of the Hand with a warhammer, and the girl sees bodies on the tower's steps. Jeyne is taken to Sansa's chamber in Maegor's.[8]

Syrio Forel defends Arya from Ser Meryn Trant and red cloaks in the Small Hall, allowing the girl to evade capture. She sees a dead grey cloak at the Tower of the Hand. When she reaches the stable, Arya finds Hullen dying near a groom and three more grey cloaks, including Desmond. After using Needle to kill a stableboy who tries to apprehend her, Arya escapes into the depths of the Red Keep, traveling through the cellar of the skulls of the Targaryen dragons to a secret passage leading outside the castle.[10]


Lord Stark is imprisoned in the black cells of the Red Keep.[11] Sansa is brought before Cersei in the small council chambers on the third day. The queen informs Sansa that her father was a traitor who tried to steal Joffrey's throne, showing her Eddard's letter to Stannis. The council has Sansa, who still desires to wed Joffrey, write letters urging her family to remain peaceful. Lord Baelish takes custody of Jeyne.[8]

Eddard's eldest son and heir, Robb Stark, calls the banners of the north to Winterfell,[12] and he marches south to rescue his father.[13] Joffrey's grandfather, Lord Tywin Lannister, invades the riverlands from the westerlands.[14]

In Joffrey's first court session, Tywin is appointed Hand of the King.[15] Janos is named Lord of Harrenhal, creating House Slynt, and he is given an advisory seat on the small council.[15] Barristan is dismissed from the Kingsguard, with Cersei's brother Jaime promoted to Lord Commander in his place. Though not a knight, Sandor Clegane is sworn in as member of Joffrey's Kingsguard, taking Barristan's slot.[15]


I did warn you not to trust me, you know.[9]

Even within the stout walls of Maegor's Holdfast, with her door closed and barred, it was hard not to be terrified when the killing began. She had grown up to the sound of steel in the yard, and scarcely a day of her life had passed without hearing the clash of sword on sword, yet somehow knowing that the fighting was real made all the difference in the world. She heard it as she had never heard it before, and there were other sounds as well, grunts of pain, angry curses, shouts for help, and the moans of wounded and dying men. In the songs, the knights never screamed nor begged for mercy.[8]

—thoughts of Sansa Stark

They're killing everyone.[8]

A great many people died that day.[16]


  1. Eddard Stark leaves Winterfell with fifty guards. He sends four home with the corpse of the direwolf, Lady. He gives Beric Dondarrion twenty of his own guards to help him bring Gregor Clegane to justice. Moreover, three of Eddard's guards (Jory Cassel, Heward and Wyl) die when Jaime Lannister confronts him about Tyrion Lannister's capture by Eddard's wife, Catelyn Stark. This means Eddard has only twenty-three guards in his household at the time of his arrest.