City Watch of King's Landing
The City Watch of King's Landing, also known as the gold cloaks, are the defenders of the city of King's Landing (including the Red Keep) and the enforcers of the law, sworn only to the Iron Throne. The Watch presumably falls under the bailiwick of the master of laws.[N 1] They are not as well trained as the City Watch of Lannisport.
The City Watch wear cloaks, usually made of heavy wool, dyed gold. They are equipped with mail armor, iron cudgels, iron spears, dirks, and occasionally longswords. Their armor, boots, and gloves are black. The officers (such as the captains of the gates of the city) wear black breastplates ornamented with four golden disks. They can be used as guards, foot soldiers, or in some cases, as mounted lancers. Nonetheless, the watchmen are not true soldiers, and their discipline in a pitched battle shows this fact. Tyrion Lannister goes so far as to state that, of the six thousand watchmen under his command, only a quarter of them (fifteen hundred) are reliable as actual soldiers.
The City Watch was established under the Targaryen dynasty. Prince Daemon Targaryen once commanded the watch, from 104–105 ᴀᴄ. He was the one who instituted their uniform use of equipment, including the golden cloaks from which they get their name. The weapons he issued were dirk, short sword, and cudgel. There were two thousand gold cloaks at his time.
During the Dance of the Dragons, the officers of the City Watch were loyal to Queen Alicent Hightower and the greens, but the rank-and-file gold cloaks supported their former commander, Daemon, a leader of the blacks. During the fall of King's Landing, Commander Ser Luthor Largent led a coup in support of the blacks, and personally killed his second-in-command, Ser Gwayne Hightower. After Luthor was killed during the riots in King's Landing, Ser Balon Byrch became the new commander. The "Mudfoot" garrison, stationed at the River Gate or "Mud Gate", joined the hedge knight and would-be kingmaker Perkin the Flea, declared their allegiance to Trystane Truefyre and flew his banner above the River Gate. The garrison stationed at the Gate of the Gods was overwhelmed by Perkin's men.
When the Targaryens were overthrown during Robert's Rebellion, the new king, Robert I Baratheon, continued the institution of the gold cloaks. Janos Slynt became their commander after the death of Manly Stokeworth. During his rule as commander of the gold cloaks, Janos was known for taking bribes and selling positions and promotions. By the end of his tenure, over half the officers were paying him part of their salaries. Lord Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, discovered this, and had two men who were willing to come forward to testify against Janos, but both were found dead a short time later. Robert recognized Janos's corruption, but allowed him to remain in his position, arguing his successor might be worse. The king's brother, Lord Stannis, felt Lord Petyr Baelish had convinced Robert to retain Janos.
A Game of Thrones
During the Hand's tourney, the gold cloaks are hard-pressed to keep the king's peace. The Hand of the King, Lord Eddard Stark, commands Lord Petyr Baelish to find funds to hire more watchmen, and lends twenty of his own Winterfell guardsmen to help for the tourney's duration.
After Robert's death, Petyr Baelish tells Eddard he will make certain the gold cloaks are loyal to him in the power struggle against Queen Cersei Lannister, with a bribe of six thousand gold coins. In truth, Baelish bribes Slynt to support the queen, which is ultimately successful when Janos and one hundred gold cloaks accompany Eddard to the throne room and betray him, killing his men. Janos is rewarded with lordship over Harrenhal. After being dismissed from the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy kills the gold cloaks that Janos sends to arrest him.
A Clash of Kings
Five gold cloaks come upon Yoren's band of Night's Watch recruits with the intent of seizing Gendry, a bastard of King Robert Baratheon, but are driven away. On Cersei's orders, Slynt sends his right hand man, Allar Deem, to murder the infant Barra, another royal bastard.
Commander Slynt is exiled to the Wall by the acting Hand, Tyrion Lannister, for his corruption and next potential betrayal. His replacement is Ser Jacelyn Bywater, an honorable veteran of Greyjoy's Rebellion, who helps Tyrion prepare the city's defenses in the face of impending invasion by Stannis Baratheon.
During the riot of King's Landing, Ser Jacelyn and a wedge of mounted lancers charge down the streets in an effort to defend the royal party, while numerous others form lines of spears before the smallfolk. In total, nine gold cloaks are slain and forty wounded. Tyrion sends Jacelyn to take Prince Tommen Baratheon into custody at Rosby, confronting his sworn shield Ser Boros Blount without bloodshed, and seizing Rosby to hold him there.
Towards the end of his term, Slynt had tripled the number of the gold cloaks, making them six thousand strong. Despite this, the new watchmen are poorly trained, and many are drunks, brutes, or cravens who joined for the promise of bread. Also, as Kingslanders, few have love for House Lannister after the Sack of King's Landing.
When Stannis arrives and the Battle of the Blackwater begins, the Watch constitutes the bulk of the defending force. When King Joffrey withdraws from the walls, the men break. Commander Bywater attempts to rally them, but is killed by his own men on the cusp of success.
A Storm of Swords
After figuring casualties and desertions, the number of men available is down to forty-four hundred. Command falls to Ser Addam Marbrand, Lord Tywin Lannister's daring cavalry captain. Despite problems with paying the men, Commander Marbrand is forbidden by Queen Cersei from dismissing any from service. Some who deserted in the Battle of the Blackwater return to the barracks, trying to take up service again, and Tywin orders Addam to break their knees.
An honor guard consisting mostly of gold cloaks accompanies Tyrion Lannister when he welcomes Prince Oberyn Martell to King's Landing. Gold cloaks manage the crowd of smallfolk at the wedding of King Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell at the Great Sept of Baelor.
When being brought to his trial for the death of Joffrey, Tyrion is escorted by Addam and six watchmen rather than the Kingsguard, most of whom had testified against him. A hundred gold cloaks stand guard in the throne room.
A Feast for Crows
Ser Addam is relieved to leave his troubling duties to join Ser Jaime Lannister in a mopping-up campaign in the riverlands. In his place Cersei appoints the illiterate hedge knight Osfryd Kettleblack, who is later removed by the small council after Cersei's arrest by the Faith of the Seven. In his place, they promote Humfrey Waters to lead the gold cloaks.
A Dance with Dragons
Known Commanders of the City Watch
- Prince Daemon Targaryen
- Ser Luthor Largent
- Ser Balon Byrch
- Manly Stokeworth
- Lord Janos Slynt
- Ser Jacelyn Bywater
- Ser Addam Marbrand
- Ser Osfryd Kettleblack
- Humfrey Waters
Known members of the City Watch
For the sake of the love I bear for Catelyn, I will go to Janos Slynt this very hour and make certain that the City Watch is yours. Six thousand gold pieces should do it. A third for the Commander, a third for the officers, a third for the men. We might be able to buy them for half that much, but I prefer not to take chances.
It takes more than a gold cloak to make a watchman.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 27, Eddard VI.
- So Spake Martin: Military Questions, June 21, 2001
- The Lands of Ice and Fire, King's Landing.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 32, Arya III.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
- The Rogue Prince.
- The Princess and the Queen.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78, Samwell V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard XIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 49, Eddard XIV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 11, Daenerys II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 5, Arya II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 36, Tyrion VIII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 44, Tyrion X.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 59, Tyrion XIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 4, Tyrion I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.