Barth

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Barth
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Title Septon
Hand of the King
Allegiance Faith of the Seven
House Targaryen
Died In 99 AC
Book(s) The World of Ice and Fire (mentioned)
The Rogue Prince (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (mentioned)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)

Barth was a septon who served as Hand of the King for Jaehaerys I Targaryen.

History

Barth was described as plain spoken but possessing of a brilliant mind. He was common-born, his father a blacksmith. After he joined the Faith, his intelligence was plain for all to see and saw his appointment to oversee the Red Keep's library a position he excelled in, attending to the King's books and records.

King Jaehaerys I Targaryen, who loved to read, became acquainted with Barth and the pair developed a friendship. The king saw Barth's worth and eventually named him his Hand of the King. Many lords of long and noble lineage were aghast at the appointment of a smith's son to this prestigious office. Barth excelled at the office, however, and served as Hand until his death. The forty years he was Hand are generally referred to as synonym for prosperity, much like the reign of Jaehaerys I.[1][1]

With Barth's aid Jaehaerys reformed the realm more than any king who lived before. Jaehaerys created a unified code, so that from the north to the Dornish Marches the realm would share common law. Great works were implemented to improve King's Landing, such as sewers, drains and wells. Barth believed fresh water and the flushing away of offal and waste are essential to a city's health.

Barth was sent to Oldtown to forge a lasting agreement between the Iron Throne and the Faith of the Seven. This agreement took away the right of the Faith to conduct criminal trials while at the same time Jaehaerys pledged upon the Iron Throne that the crown would always defend the Faith. The great schism between crown and faith were healed by this accord.[2]

While it was said that Queen Alysanne Targaryen was Jaehaerys's great love, Barth was his greatest friend. No man of humble birth ever rose so high as the plain spoken but brilliant septon.[2]

Writings

Barth wrote an important corpus about dragons, Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History. When the Jaehaerys I Targaryen was dying, his caregiver Alicent Hightower read to him; among the books were the writings of Barth.[3] His enemies always claimed he was more sorcerer than septon.[4] Barth's writings were ordered destroyed by King Baelor I Targaryen when he came to the Iron Throne, although some fragments have survived. However, it is unlikely that any of Barth's work found its way across the narrow sea.[4]

Barth claimed that dragons were neither male nor female.[5] He ruled out that dragons are vulnerable through their mouths. Barth, Munkun and Thomax hold markedly divergent views on the mating habits of dragons.[4]

He also speculated that the bloodmages of Valyria used wyvern stock to create dragons.[6]

Recent Events

A Storm of Swords

When Davos Seaworth feels insecure about his new position as Hand of the King to Stannis Baratheon due to his low birth, Maester Pylos reassures him by explaining the prosperous and peaceful tenures of the humbly-born Septon Barth and his time as Hand to illustrate that high birth does not equal ability.[1]

A Feast for Crows

In Braavos, the dying Maester Aemon hears the talk of Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons emanating from Qarth. He tells Samwell Tarly that Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke and that the dragons prove it. Aemon explains to Sam that no one ever looked for a girl, it was a prince that was promised, not a princess. He tells Sam that dragons are neither male nor female; Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame.

Aboard the Cinnamon Wind Aemon's wits wander and his talk is all a jumble. He asks Sam to read for him from a book by Septon Barth, whose writings had been burned during the reign of Baelor the Blessed.

A Dance with Dragons

Aboard the Shy Maid while writing his dragonlore Tyrion Lannister thinks of the various books about dragons he would like to get his hands on. He is not hopeful concerning Septon Barth's Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History. He recalls that Baelor the Blessed had ordered all Barth's writings destroyed when he came to the Iron Throne. Ten years ago, he had read a fragment of Unnatural History that had eluded the Blessed Baelor, but he doubts that any of Barth's work found its way across the narrow sea.

Later, outside of Meereen on his way to the camp of the Second Sons, the escaped slave Tyrion sees that the Yunkai besiegers are making preparations in case Drogon should return. He knows how hard dragons are to kill and is scornful of these would-be dragonslayers, remembering Barth's writings in Unnatural History.[7]

Quotes

As for birth, the dragonkings oft chose Hands from their own blood, with results as various as Baelor Breakspear and Maegor the Cruel. Against this you have, Septon Barth, the blacksmith's son the Old King plucked from the Red Keep's library, who gave the realm forty years of peace and plenty.[1]
- Maester Pylos to Davos Seaworth


What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years.[5]
Maester Aemon, talking of the prince that was promised


Death comes out of the dragon’s mouth, but death does not go in that way.[7]
– Barth in Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History

References and Notes

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