From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
Ser Barristan as Arstan Whitebeard, by Amok©
|Alias|| Barristan the Bold|
Barristan the Old
Lord Commander of the Kingsguard (former)
Hand of the Queen
|Allegiance|| House Selmy|
|Born||In 237 AC|
|Book(s)|| The World of Ice and Fire (mentioned)|
A Game of Thrones (appears)
A Clash of Kings (appears)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (POV)
The Winds of Winter (POV)
|Played by||Ian McElhinney|
|TV series||Season 1 | Season 3 | Season 4|
Ser Barristan Selmy, called Barristan the Bold, is a knight from House Selmy. He is a celebrated hero and a member of the Kingsguard, serving throughout a time when the Kingsguard were considered to be the greatest knights of the realm. Barristan becomes a POV character in A Dance with Dragons. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones, he is played by Ian McElhinney.
Character and Appearance
- See also: Images of Barristan Selmy
Selmy is tall and has blue eyes which some consider to be sad. He is an older man, with long white hair and lined features. Some consider him handsome, at least for an older man. Despite advanced age, he looks strong and graceful and every bit the skilled knight he was in his youth. During his time in the Kingsguard, like all other members, he wore white, from his suit of enameled scale armor to his shield. When in the Kingsguard in King's Landing, he was clean shaven, but he grew a long white beard when he went to find Daenerys.
The mail is gilded, finely wrought, the links as supple as good leather, the plate enameled, hard as ice and bright as new fallen snow. A dagger goes on one hip, his longsword on the other; it hangs from a white leather belt with golden buckles. Last of all he fastens a long white cloak about his shoulders.
The helm has a narrow eye slit and ornate dragon’s wings which are splendid to look upon. He leaves the helm on its hook for his confrontation with Hizdahr zo Loraq. Selmy leaves it for his next tourney, if the Seven should grant him one.
Barristan was born the first son of Ser Lyonel Selmy, the Knight of Harvest Hall. He squired for Lord Manfred Swann in his youth. At the age of ten, Barristan donned the armor of a mystery knight and entered a tourney at Blackhaven. Prince Duncan Targaryen took pity on the small mystery knight while others laughed. Duncan jousted Selmy when no one else would and it was Duncan who gave Barristan his epithet.
Barristan received his knighthood at the age of sixteen from King Aegon V Targaryen after unhorsing Prince Duncan and Lord Commander Ser Duncan the Tall of the Kingsguard at a tourney in King's Landing. An eminently successful tourney knight throughout his career, he also proved his worth on the battlefield. During the War of the Ninepenny Kings Barristan slew Maelys the Monstrous in single combat, ending the male line of the Blackfyre Pretenders. Selmy had to cut a bloody swath through the Golden Company just to reach him. His actions led the remaining members of the Band of Nine to abandon the Stepstones and lose all interest in Westeros. His deeds gained him undying fame and his name was well known throughout the Seven Kingdoms afterwards.
Barristan was named to the Kingsguard at the age of twenty-three and swore his vows before Ser Gerold Hightower, when King Jaehaerys II Targaryen bestowed the white cloak on him. In joining the Kingsguard, he gave up the claim to his family seat, and the girl he was to wed was married to his cousin instead.
In the Kingsguard
During the Defiance of Duskendale, Lord Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King, sent Barristan to rescue the captive King Aerys II Targaryen. Barristan slew Ser Symon Hollard, avenging the death of his sworn brother, Ser Gwayne Gaunt, and freeing the king. In the aftermath of the Defiance, Barristan pleaded for the life of the child Dontos Hollard, to which King Aerys acquiesced. Later in Aerys's reign, during the Kingsguard's campaign against the outlaw Kingswood Brotherhood, Barristan rescued Lady Jeyne Swann and her septa, and killed the bandits' leader, Ser Simon Toyne, in single combat. He defeated Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in the final joust to win the tourney at Storm's End.
Like his other sworn brothers of the Kingsguard, Barristan was present at the tourney at Harrenhal. He was infatuated by the beautiful Lady Ashara Dayne, though he knew nothing could come of his desire for her. He planned on naming her queen of love and beauty if he won the tournament, but was unhorsed by Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar then crowned Lyanna Stark, setting off a chain of events that led to Robert's Rebellion. Selmy wonders if he could have averted the war if he had defeated Rhaegar in the tournament. He also fantasizes that, if he had won the tourney and crowned Ashara, perhaps she would have turned to him "instead of Stark." He thinks of the consequences of his unspoken love for Ashara as one of his many failures.
During Robert's Rebellion, after the defeat of Lord Jon Connington at the Battle of the Bells, Ser Barristan, with Ser Jonothor Darry, was sent to rally the remnants of Connington's army. He was severely wounded at the Battle of the Trident. Lord Roose Bolton counseled that Barristan's throat should be cut, but Robert Baratheon instead called for maesters to attend him.
Though he fought bravely for the Targaryens during the rebellion which overthrew them, Barristan later took the new king's pardon and became the Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard. Having had reservations about the Kingslayer even before he earned his epithet, Barristan did not approve of Jaime Lannister being allowed to continue his service. After Jaime slew Aerys he was quoted by Tyrion Lannister as saying Jaime's white cloak should be traded for a black one, agreeing with Lord Eddard Stark that Jaime should be exiled to the Wall.
Barristan had moral reservations about serving the new king, Robert I Baratheon, but served loyally nonetheless. Barristan recalled, however, that if he had seen Robert smile when Tywin Lannister presented him with the bloody bodies of Rhaegar's children, he would never have served Robert and nothing on earth would have stopped Selmy from killing him. Barristan loathes seeing the deaths of children, as illustrated by his asking that the babe Dontos Hollard be spared when House Hollard was destroyed after the Defiance of Duskendale.
During Greyjoy's Rebellion, Ser Barristan led the attack on Old Wyk. He remained a formidable fighter even in his advanced years, winning the championship of a tourney at King's Landing at the age of 57, and unhorsing Sandor Clegane in a tilt in the tourney on Prince Joffrey's name day, just a year prior to the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings.
A Game of Thrones
At the beginning ofA Song of Ice and Fire, Ser Barristan serves loyally as Lord Commander of King Robert I Baratheon's Kingsguard. He, Lord Renly Baratheon, and Ser Ilyn Payne arrive as an honor guard to the procession led by Robert and his new Hand of the King, Lord Eddard Stark, on their way back to King's Landing from Winterfell. During the Hand's tourney, Barristan is only defeated by Ser Jaime Lannister after three tilts, having defeated men ten and twenty years younger in his first two contests. When Ser Hugh of the Vale is killed in the tournament by Ser Gregor Clegane, Selmy stands vigil over the young knight himself, as the boy had no one else.
Barristan is present on the small council when King Robert orders the death of the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen. He and Eddard are the only council members who protest the move. He accompanies Robert on his ill-fated boar hunt in the kingswood which leads to the death of the king.
In an unprecedented move and on Varys's suggestion, Barristan is dismissed from the Kingsguard and the small council by the new king, Joffrey I Baratheon, on grounds of old age, the implied accusation being that he did not keep King Robert safe. The Lannisters' motivations, however, are to allow Joffrey to give a white cloak to his "dog," Sandor Clegane, and so Cersei Lannister can place her brother Jaime as the new Lord Commander with a seat on the small council. Outraged by his removal, Ser Barristan throws down his sword and leaves the throne room. After Selmy leaves the room the king orders him seized and questioned for a perceived threat uttered in the heat of his dismissal. Selmy enters the White Sword Tower to edit his White Book entry, dutifully recording his own dismissal. Upon leaving the Red Keep Janos Slynt orders his men to seize Barristan. Though he does not have his sword, Selmy kills the gold cloaks sent after him and flees the castle.
Lord Tywin Lannister considers Ser Barristan's dismissal a folly, as the old knight still commands enough respect to make him a threat in case he chooses to back Stannis Baratheon or Robb Stark, and he cites it as one reason why he sends his son Tyrion as acting Hand to King's Landing to keep Joffrey better in check than Queen Cersei is capable of.
A Clash of Kings
Renly Baratheon declares himself king and hopes that Ser Barristan's announcement that he is going to serve the true king refers to him. Renly keeps a cloak in his Rainbow Guard ready for Barristan in case the old knight offers him his sword. When he concludes that his hopes have been futile, Renly gives Barristan's spot on his Kingsguard to Brienne of Tarth, believing that Ser Barristan might have gone to Riverrun to support Robb Stark as king. However, Lady Catelyn Stark informs him that Barristan is not with Robb. Renly concludes that Barristan must have decided to support his brother Stannis, and he orders his knights to spare Barristan's life if it comes to a battle with Stannis.
While Daenerys Targaryen is walking through the docks of Qarth visiting ships to find passage, Ser Jorah Mormont notices that they are being followed by two men, a fat brown man and an older man with a white beard and a staff who appears to be from Westeros. The old man prevents a manticore from assassinating Dany, but before she can direct her bloodriders to the perpetrator, a Sorrowful Man, he has disappeared.
The newcomers, the large eunuch Strong Belwas and his aged squire, Arstan Whitebeard, tell Dany that Magister Illyrio Mopatis sent them to serve her since he cannot travel. They are to bring her back to Pentos; there are four kings in Westeros, and no justice. Belwas tells her that they have three ships for her to travel.
A Storm of Swords
Rather than sail to Pentos, Daenerys chooses to sail to Astapor to buy Unsullied. Arstan discusses dragons, her father King Aerys II, and her brother, Prince Rhaegar with Dany. Ser Jorah Mormont distrusts Arstan and Belwas, pointing out that Whitebeard speaks out too brazenly for a mere squire.
Whitebeard is with Dany in the Plaza of Pride when they meet with the slaver selling Unsullied, which the squire disapproves of. When she asks how she is win Westeros without an army, Arstan replies half of Westeros would support her because of Rhaegar. When she further asks about her father, he has little positive to say. He advises Dany that she should send envoys, and even those that opposed her father might support her. He also objects to Daenerys's plan to pay for the Unsullied with one of her dragons, but she conquers Astapor by ordering her new Unsullied to attack the slavers.
When Dany announces her plan to take Yunkai, Whitebeard agrees with Ser Jorah that she is Rhaegar Targaryen’s sister, adding that she is also a queen. While waiting for the results of the battle against the Yunkai'i, Arstan discusses Rhaegar, the tourney at Harrenhal, and Summerhall with Daenerys.
When Daenerys besieges Meereen, Oznak zo Pahl rides out of Meereen on a white charger with a fourteen foot lance, challenging the besiegers to send forth a champion. Whitebeard tells Dany that this challenge must be met. Daenerys sends Strong Belwas because she can easily spare his loss, and his death as an ex-slave would not give the knight any prestige, but Belwas slays his opponent.
Dany decides she will ride to her people with only a limited guard. She is attacked by Mero, but Whitebeard is able to easily dispatch the Titan's Bastard. He falls into the water and the freemen fall on his body. Daenerys wishes that Whitebeard be knighted in gratitude, but both Whitebeard and Ser Jorah say “no” at the same time. When Jorah, impressed that the old squire could kill the Bastard with just a stick, asks Whitebeard who he was, Arstan responds that he is a better knight than him.
Whitebeard tells Dany that he really did not lie, but did withhold truths, and can only beg forgiveness. Jorah recognizes Whitebeard as Barristan the Bold, tells Dany that this is the man that betrayed her family to serve Robert I Baratheon. When she asks if Whitebeard is hers or the Usurper’s man, he tells her he is hers if she will have him. He then tells how he took Robert's pardon and served with the Kingslayer and others as bad, and that afterwards the boy king had cast him aside and sent men to kill him, Selmy realized he had to find his true king. He then tells her that he had to keep his presence secret because there is a spy who has been informing on her since she wed Khal Drogo. Dany recognizes that it must be Ser Jorah, who affirms it is true; he had been promised he could go home for this task.
Daenerys captures Meereen by having Barristan, Jorah, and Belwas infiltrate the city through the sewers and release slaves. Afterward, Barristan shaves his beard and looks ten years younger. Dany reveals she had hoped they would have died in the sewers. Ser Barristan is forthright, telling her that her brother Viserys had more of a taint of her father, the Mad King. Rhaegar Targaryen did not, and he sees no taint in her. He further tells her that he will do whatever she asks, and if she will not have him he would continue to serve Strong Belwas. Barristan receives a sword from her. In contrast, Jorah is exiled from Meereen after Barristan confirms that he had been a spy for Robert's small council.
Later on a terrace, Barristan tells her that Aerys was not mad initially, but his lapses became worse over time, while their mother did her best to shield Viserys from his father's insanity. Dany decides she can hear no more, but Barristan tells her later he can tell her more. Barristan is among her advisors when she states she will not leave but stay, rule and be a queen in Meereen.
A Dance with Dragons
Barristan reveals to Dany that after being dismissed from Joffrey's Kingsguard he could have returned to Harvest Hall, where his kin would doubtless have welcomed him, but he did not wish to inflict Joffrey's displeasure on them. Instead, he sold his horse and disguised himself as a commoner. He then returned to the city along with the stream of smallfolk fleeing the war, looking like one more old man fleeing the war. Barristan was present in the crowd when Lord Eddard Stark was executed before the Great Sept of Baelor. Afterwards he went to the Great Sept to pray for Eddard's soul and thank the gods he himself had only been dismissed. These events forced Barristan to reevaluate his years of service in Robert's Kingsguard alongside the likes of the Kingslayer, and others whom he considered near as bad. He thought that Robert had been a good knight, but a poor king, and that Selmy must find his true king and die in his service. This led Barristan to book passage across the narrow sea to Pentos, which coincided with the plans of Varys and Illyrio Mopatis.
Ser Barristan continues his service of Daenerys Targaryen as Lord Commander of her Queensguard, attempting to lead her down an honorable path towards the safety of Meereen. Barristan opposes Daenerys's relationship with her paramour Daario Naharis, and even her marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq, which ensures temporary peace within Meereen.
Barristan also begins training knights. His squires are Tumco Lho, Larraq, the Red Lamb, and the Boys, who are three Ghiscari brothers. After Daenerys's departure on Drogon's back, Barristan assumes the title of Hand of the Queen within Meereen. He is present when Bloodbeard presents the court with the head of Groleo. Barristan is enraged and wants to kill Bloodbeard, but stops because the act would break his queen's peace.
Barristan finally decides to work with Skahaz mo Kandaq, despite his loathing of the man and his own inhibitions about making decisions of state in the absence of his queen. Selmy leads with honor and refuses Skahaz's council on killing the Ghiscari child cupbearers who are the sons and daughters of powerful Meereenese nobles. He also enlists Grey Worm, and they plan to take King Hizdahr hostage. Selmy fears that if he harms Hizdahr the Yunkai'i will kill the remaining hostages Daario, Jhogo and Hero just as they killed Captain Groleo. Skahaz states it would be better for Daenerys in the long run if they killed Daario.
Despite his personal feeling about Daario, however, Barristan goes to the Tattered Prince and enlists his help. He promises to reward the Tattered Prince if he frees the three hostages from the Yunkai camp. Selmy then goes to capture Hizdahr. In doing so, he slays Hizdahr's protector, the formidable pit fighter Khrazz. Barristan longs for the return of Daenerys, but prepares for battle with the Yunkai, using a beacon system to call the attack should the fragile peace between the sides be broken. During a meeting between Ser Barristan and the Green Grace, Skahaz notifies Barristan that the Yunkish catapults are flinging corpses infected with the pale mare into the city.
The Winds of Winter
The Yunkish threat has been augmented by the presence of the bloody flux. Ser Barristan notes that under normal circumstances, he would defend Meereen from behind its strong walls. However, because the Yunkish introduced the pale mare into Meereen by catapulting infected corpses over the walls, he resolves to ride out and meet his enemy on the field rather than watch the impending outbreak annihilate Meereen. On the eve of the offensive, he gives a pep talk to his newly anointed knights and soldiers. When his talk is interrupted by the arrival of dawn, Barristan orders the Red Lamb to "sound the attack."
Quotes by Barristan
|“||A hall to die in, and men to bury me. I thank you, my lords...but I spit on your pity...I am a knight...I shall die a knight.||”|
- Ser Barristan's declaration upon being fired from the Kingsguard
|“||Have no fear, sers, your king is safe... no thanks to you. Even now, I could cut through the five of you as easy as a dagger cuts cheese. If you would serve under the Kingslayer, not a one of you is fit to wear the white. Here, boy. Melt it down and add it to the others, if you like. It will do you more good than the swords in the hands of these five. Perhaps Lord Stannis will chance to sit on it when he takes your throne.||”|
– Barristan denouncing his former Sworn Brothers
|“||I took Robert's pardon, aye. I served him in Kingsguard and council. Served with the Kingslayer and others near as bad, who soiled the white cloak I wore. Nothing will excuse that. I might be serving in King's Landing still if the vile boy upon the Iron Throne had not cast me aside, it shames me to admit. But when he took the cloak the White Bull had draped about my shoulders, and sent men to kill me that selfsame day, it was as though he'd ripped a caul off my eyes. That was when I knew I must find my true king, and die in his service...||”|
- Barristan to Daenerys Targaryen
|“||Some had been heroes, some weaklings, knaves, or cravens. Most were only men-quicker and stronger than most, more skilled with sword and shield, but still prey to pride, ambition, lust, love, anger, jealousy, greed for gold, hunger for power, and all the other failings that afflicted lesser mortals. The best of them overcame their flaws, did their duty, and died with their swords in their hands. The worst ... The worst were those who played the game of thrones.||”|
– Barristan reflecting on the history of the Kingsguard
|“||Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it. Daemon Blackfyre loved the first Daenerys, and rose in rebellion when denied her. Bittersteel and Bloodraven both loved Shiera Seastar and the Seven Kingdoms bled. The Prince of Dragonflies loved Jenny of Oldstones so much he cast aside a crown, and Westeros paid the bride price in corpses. All three of the sons of the fifth Aegon had wed for love in defiance of their father's wishes. And because that unlikely monarch had followed his heart when he chose his queen, he allowed his sons to have their way, making bitter enemies when he might have made fast friends. Treason and turmoil followed, as night follows day, ending at Summerhall in sorcery, fire and grief.||”|
- thoughts of Barristan
|“||I am an old man, an old knight, and I have seen more battles than most of you have years. Nothing is more terrible upon this earth, nothing more glorious, nothing more absurd. You may retch. You will not be the first. You may drop your sword, your shield, your lance. Others have done the same. Pick it up and go on fighting. You may foul your breeches. I did, in my first battle. No one will care. All battlefields smell of shit. You may cry out for your mother, pray to gods you thought you had forgotten, howl obscenities that you never dreamed could pass your lips. All this has happened too.||”|
Quotes about Barristan
|“||Eddard: Ser Barristan is as valiant and honorable as any man in King's Landing.
Petyr: And as tiresome.
|“||Of these seven, only Ser Barristan Selmy is made of the true steel.||”|
|“||...dismissing Selmy, where was the sense in that? Yes, the man was old, but the name of Barristan the Bold still has meaning in the realm, He lent honor to any man he served.||”|
|“||The smallfolk talk of him the same way they talk of Serwyn of the Mirror shield and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight.||”|
|“||He has a good face, and great strength to him.||”|
|“||I saw him perhaps a dozen times ... from afar, most often, standing with his brothers or riding in some tourney. But every man in the Seven Kingdoms knows Barristan the Bold ... Khaleesi, before you kneels Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, who betrayed your House to serve the Usurper Robert Baratheon.||”|
|“||Ser Barristan is a valiant knight and true; but none, I think, has ever called him cunning.||”|
References and Notes
- ↑ See the Barristan Selmy calculation.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
- ↑ HBO: Game of Thrones: cast and crew
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 30, Daenerys.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 57, Daenerys.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 59, The Discarded Knight (Barristan II).
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 55, The Queensguard (Barristan I).
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 9, Brienne.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker (Barristan III).
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 57, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard.
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 24.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion.
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 11, Daenerys.
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya.
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23, Daenerys.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 27, Daenerys.
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 71, Daenerys.
- ↑ 33.0 33.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 70, The Queen's Hand (Barristan IV).
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 The Winds of Winter, Barristan
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 27, Eddard.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion.
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