Battle of the Blackwater
From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
|Battle of the Blackwater|
|Conflict||War of the Five Kings|
|Place||King's Landing / Mouth of the Blackwater|
|Result||Decisive victory for House Baratheon of King's Landing|
The Battle of the Blackwater was the biggest battle in the War of the Five Kings. The battle was fought between forces loyal to Stannis Baratheon and those loyal to Joffrey Baratheon. Stannis' army was on the verge of defeating the garrison of King's Landing, but was taken by surprise and all but annihilated by the joint forces of Tywin Lannister and the Tyrells.
Stannis was one of the first members of King Robert's Small Council to harbor suspicions of the parentage of the king's children, and to discover that they were born of incest between Queen Cersei Lannister and her brother Ser Jaime.
Taking his suspicions and what proof he could muster, in the form of Robert's numerous bastard children, to Lord Arryn, he hoped to convince the Hand of the King, one of Robert's oldest and most trusted friends, of the Lannisters' treason. When Arryn died under suspicious circumstances shortly thereafter, Stannis fled to Dragonstone, his seat of power. Rallying what strength he could, with but few Houses sworn to Dragonstone, he closed the port and its surrounding waters, hiring mercenaries and pirates of the Free Cities to augment his forces. As the lord of an island fiefdom and the former Master of Ships, Stannis' naval power was considerable, but the sparse population of the rocky, volcanic islands surrounding Dragonstone left him without the strength to risk openly contesting the Lannisters.
After Robert died, Stannis presented his claims through letters distributed throughout the Seven Kingdoms, proclaiming Prince Joffrey and his siblings the fruit of incest, and claiming the crown as Robert's eldest surviving brother and rightful heir. With neither proof, nor the support or love of nobles and commons alike, his proclamation ended as little more than tavern gossip.
Even before Stannis' ravens had taken wing with his claim, his younger brother Renly had ridden from King's Landing to Highgarden, where he wed the daughter of Lord Tyrell and claimed the crown for himself. For Stannis, this was blatant treason. Moreover, Stannis was infuriated with the knowledge that the the Stormlands had thrown in with Renly, despite the fact that Stannis, as the eldest son of House Baratheon, should have held claim to the loyalty of his House's ancestral seat. Unwilling to let such treachery pass, when Stannis at last set out from Dragonstone to war, he made not for King's Landing, but Storm's End.
Stannis laid siege to the coastal fortress, which was under the command of Ser Cortnay Penrose, but all his might was but a meager thing against all the strength of storm and Reach at his brother's command. When Renly abandoned his march on King's Landing, bringing all his knights and mounted forces to lift the siege, Stannis was vastly outnumbered. However, before the battle could begin, Renly was slain by a shadow called forth by the shadowbinder Melisandre, an Asshai'i woman in Stannis' service.
With Renly dead, the greater part of the knights and lords who had been sworn to him submitted to the last Baratheon, chief among them House Florent, relatives of Stannis' wife. About a fifth of the cavalry did not submit, and fled under the command of Ser Loras Tyrell back to Bitterbridge, where almost 80,000 men of Renly's army waited with his widowed Tyrell queen. Ser Loras captured the knights Stannis sent to try and recruit the Reach-Stormlands infantry still encamped at Bitterbridge.
Unaware of the capture of Ser Parmen Crane and Ser Erren Florent, Stannis' army now marched on King's Landing. Reinforced with some of the strength of the Stormlands, King Stannis had almost twenty thousand men at his command, mostly knights and freeriders, against the few thousand gold cloaks of King's Landing's City Watch. However, the city was guarded to the south by the Blackwater Rush, and would require an amphibious assault to conquer. Stannis moved his host and fleet upon King's Landing.
Under the direction of the acting Hand, Tyrion Lannister, King's Landing meanwhile strengthened its defenses, doubling its city watch, burning the buildings outside the city walls and constructing a chain which would allow the defenders to close off the Blackwater Rush, as well as preparing ships loaded with wildfire. Tyrion sent out his remaining 150 Mountain clansmen to harass Stannis's flanks in the Kingswood.
Treacherous waters and inclement weather delayed Stannis's fleet on its northward journey from Storm's End. About a dozen ships were lost on the journey to Blackwater Bay and the troops on land suffered days of harassment from Tyrion's clansmen and skirmishers in the Kingswood, despite burning swaths of the forest trying to ferret them out. When Stannis's fleet passed the Merling Rock. Stannis went to command his troops on land and gave command of the fleet to Ser Imry Florent, who commanded from Stannis's galley the Fury.
Battle on the River
The fleet sailed up the Blackwater Rush with almost all their strength. Confident of his superior numbers, and knowing that the fleet of King's Landing could not hope to contest them, Ser Imry did not send scouts ahead, and recklessly attacked immediately, leaving only a contingent of mercenary galleys led by Salladhor Saan as rear guard guard out in the bay. The fleet was organized into ten battle lines composed of twenty ships each. The first two lines were to smash the small royal fleet, while the remaining ships were to land troops to attack the city.
Ser Imry's lack of caution proved disastrous when the Lannisters sprung a trap. When Stannis's fleet engaged with Joffrey's, they encountered ships loaded to bursting with wildfire, a deadly accelerant, which burns even on water. Spreading downstream it has soon engulfed in flames the closely packed ships of both fleets, finding their retreat cut off by the massive chain that had been raised between two winch towers at the mouth of the river.
The wildfire unleashed a tremendous amount of damage, destroying Joffrey's small fleet and a large portion of Stannis's. However, a few of Stannis's ships had escaped the conflagration: eight ships managed to land troops to the northern bank, and forty or so galleys remained ready to row Stannis's main force across the river. The congestion of wrecks caught on the chain had unwittingly provided a bridge - albeit a burning, unstable one - for the army to cross.
Attack on King's Landing
The city itself was defended by some 5,700 gold cloaks (300 having been sent to escort Littlefinger in his attempt to recruit the Tyrells), leavened with 800 mercenaries and 300 knights, squires, and men-at-arms from the court and the surrounding region. As acting Hand of the King, command of the defense was taken by Tyrion Lannister.
To avoid being overwhelmed, Tyrion tasked several groups of mounted men-at-arms, along with what few knights the city had, to harry Stannis' forces as they came ashore. Under the command of Sandor Clegane and Ser Balon Swann of the Kingsguard, they managed to help stem the tide, but as the battle dragged on, they suffered grievous casualties. Battering rams had been brought to bear on at least two of the city's gates, and when the wildfire raging across the river finally robbed Clegane of his courage, the refusal of the fearsome Hound to lead any more sorties threatened to break the morale of the defenders.
Realizing that they had to drive off the rams and hold the river at all costs, Tyrion made to lead the next sortie himself. Shamed into action by the dwarf's display of courage, the Kingslanders rallied to clear the riverbank one last time; they managed to disperse the attackers and make for the Mud Gate. Tyrion took the fight to the riverfront as they observed a large group of Stannis's soldiers crossing over the bridge of ship wreckage in the river. However, in the fighting amidst the wreckage of the collapsing bridge of boats, Tyrion was severely wounded at the hands of Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard, who had been Tyrion's sworn shield throughout the battle.
After the loss of the Hand, the defenders retreated within the city walls, freeing Stannis to transport enough men over the river to assault the city in earnest. Ser Guyard Morrigen led the van. Queen Cersei, fearing for her son, had King Joffrey withdraw to the Red Keep from amongst the men; as soon as the defenders saw the king retire, their morale broke and they began throwing down their spears and fled by the hundreds leaving the walls, killing their officers, including Ser Jacelyn Bywater, in the process. At this point the battle seemed to be lost.
Arrival of Tywin Lannister
Though Stannis' army was still split across the Blackwater, victory was now within his grasp. Just as quickly as the tide had turned in his favor, however, it was turned again by the sudden appearance of foes on his flanks. Unknown to either the attackers or the defenders, the Lannisters and the Tyrells had secured an alliance and Renly's former army has marched from Bitterbridge, uniting with Lord Tywin Lannister's own host in the shadow of the Kingswood.
Tyrion's wildlings in the Kingswood created a blind spot for Stannis by killing his outriders and scouts, and allowed Tywin to take Stannis's smaller and partially crossed host unaware from the rear. Lord Tywin led the right, Mace Tyrell the left, and Randyll Tarly the center, but much of the fighting was done by the vanguard, led by Ser Garlan Tyrell.
Garlan dressed in the ornate and unmistakable armor of the late Renly Baratheon, leading to confusion and disorder amongst Stannis' ranks, and even stories that Renly had risen from the dead and fought as a ghost for Joffrey. "Renly's shade" slew Guyard Morrigen, who led Stannis's van.
Divided, surprised, and outnumbered, Stannis' host broke quickly, with many of his lords bannermen switching allegiance mid-battle, proving as fickle to Stannis as they had to the deceased Renly. The Bastard of Nightsong led a rearguard action that allowed perhaps two thousand Stannis loyalists, chiefly Florents, to escape, along with Stannis himself on the Lysene galleys which had been left in Blackwater Bay while the rest of the fleet had burned.
The captured Stormlords and Reachmen bent the knee to King Joffrey. With the newly forged Tyrell alliance, the Lannisters now controlled the whole south and west, commanding overwhelming superiority of numbers in the field. The end of the war now seems close.
Meanwhile most of the credit for the victory went to Tywin and the Tyrells, robbing Tyrion Lannister of his greatest achievement.
Honors and Rewards
King Joffrey and the Small Council granted the following honors and rewards to the participants and survivors of the battle:
- Lord Tywin Lannister, proclaimed "Savior of the City"
- Lord Mace Tyrell, a seat on the small council as Master of Ships.
- Ser Loras Tyrell, a place in the Kingsguard, replacing Ser Mandon Moore.
- Ser Garlan Tyrell, the titles, lands and incomes of House Florent, including lordship of Brightwater Keep. He also asks King Joffrey to marry his sister Margaery Tyrell.
- Lords Mathis Rowan and Paxter Redwyne seats on the small council as advisers
- Ser Boros Blount, re-instated to the Kingsguard to replace Sandor Clegane.
- Ser Philip Foote, the lands, rights and incomes of House Caron, including Lordship of Nightsong as Lord Foote, for slaying Lord Bryce Caron.
- Lothor Brune, raised to knighthood and granted land and keep at the Riverlands for the capture of Ser Jon Fossoway and the slaying of Ser Bryan and Ser Edwyd Fossoway after fighting past half a hundred Fossoway men-at-arms.
- Josmyn Peckledon, a sword and suit of plate and a warhorse of the royal stables as well as a knighthood when coming of age, for killing two knights, wounding a third and capturing two more.
- Goodman Willit, a Swyft man-at-arms who saved his master from beneath his dying horse and a dozen attackers. Granted a spear with a silver-banded haft, a hauberk of new-forged ringmail and a full helm with visor. His elder son taken as a squire and his younger one as page at Casterly Rock.
- Wisdom Hallyne, raised to lordship, credited for the employment of wildfire in the battle.
- Ser Lancel Lannister, granted the lands, castle and rights of House Darry as Lord of Darry.
- Lord Petyr Baelish, for his "faithful service to crown and realm", granted the castle of Harrenhal with all its attendant lands and incomes, and raised to Lord Paramount of the Trident.
- Bronn, captain of the guard of Tyrion Lannister, raised to knighthood as Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Credited for the chain.
- Osfryd and Osney Kettleblack, also raised to knighthood.
- Under officers on warships Ramshead, Lance and Lady of Silk and the captains of River Arrow, Wildwind and Prince Aemon survived and were honored by the crown.
- Lord Ardrian Celtigar
- Lord Alesander Staedmon
- Lord Steffon Varner
- Lord Willum
- Ser Eldon Estermont
- Ser Mark Mullendore
- Ser Tanton Fossoway
- Ser Donnel Swann
- Ser Ronnet Connington
- Ser Jon Fossoway
- Ser Bonifer Hasty
- Ser Dermot of the Rainwood
- Ser Timon the Scrapesword
- Josua Willum
- Elyas Willum
- Aurane Waters
- Fury, Ser Imry Florent's flagship
- Lord Steffon
- Stag of the Sea
- Pride of Driftmark
- Red Claw
- Bold Laughter
- Lady Harra
- Laughing Lord
- Sea Demon
- Horned Honor
- Ragged Jenna
- Swift Sword
- Trident Three
- Princess Rhaenys
- Queen Alysanne
- Dog's Nose
- Red Raven
- Black Betha
- Lady Marya
|“||My hirelings betray me, my friends are scourged and shamed, and I lie here rotting. I thought I won the bloody battle. Is this what triumph tastes like?||”|
References and Notes
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 36, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 44, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 52, Sansa.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 58, Davos
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 58, Davos.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 59, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 61, Tyrion.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 62, Sansa.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 4, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa