The Golden Company - by Urukki Saki ©
|Banner||Solid gold banners, with no designs or devices.|
"Our word is good as gold"|
"Beneath the gold, the bitter steel"
|Current Commander||Harry Strickland|
The Golden Company is a company of sellswords founded by the Great Bastard, Aegor Rivers, known as "Bittersteel". They are considered the largest, most famous, and most expensive sellsword or mercenary company in the Free Cities. The current captain-general is Harry Strickland.
Despite the notorious unreliability of sellswords, the Golden Company is reputed to have never broken a contract. Their motto is "Our word is good as gold", while their war cry, "Beneath the gold, the bitter steel", pays homage to their founder.
The Golden Company was founded by Aegor Rivers, called "Bittersteel", a legitimized bastard of King Aegon IV Targaryen, after he fled Westeros with the younger sons of Daemon I Blackfyre at the end of the First Blackfyre Rebellion. When Aegor saw all the exiled lords and knights signing on with other sellsword companies, such as the Ragged Standard or the Maiden's Men, and saw the support of House Blackfyre ebbing away, he created his own sellsword company 212 AC. Since then they have fought mainly in the Disputed Lands.
The Golden Company is said to be made up of exiles and the sons of exiles. The Golden Company were once headed by Maelys the Monstrous, the last of the Blackfyre Pretenders. Daemon Blackfyre, a cousin to Maelys, fought him over command of the Golden Company. Maelys killed Daemon by twisting his head until it was torn from his shoulders. During the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Ser Barristan Selmy cut a bloody path though the Golden Company's ranks to slay Maelys in single combat.
As the heirs of Bittersteel, discipline is like mother's milk to the men of the Golden Company. They are able to march quickly after a haphazard and disorganized landing without the chaos that would have inevitably delayed a hastily assembled host of household knights and local levies.
The high officers display a rude splendor. Like many in their trade they keep their worldly wealth upon their person, including jewelled swords, inlaid armor, heavy torcs, and fine silks. Many wear a lord's ransom in golden arm rings, with each ring signifying one year's service with the Golden Company. The captain-general's tent is made of cloth-of-gold, and is surrounded by a ring of pikes topped with the gilded skulls of previous captain-generals.
A Feast for Crows
The Golden Company breaks its contract with the Free City of Myr, despite looming war with neighboring Lys and Tyrosh. According to sailors in King's Landing, they are making for Volantis. No one can say why they have broken their contract.
In Westeros Arianne Martell tells Ser Arys Oakheart that the Golden Company has broken its contract with Myr. She uses this information in her attempt to convince him to help with her scheme to crown Princess Myrcella Baratheon as Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men.
During Cersei Lannister's small council meeting, Aurane Waters reveals that the Golden Company has broken its contract with Myr. He has heard many men say that Stannis Baratheon has hired them and is bringing them across the narrow sea. Cersei then tells the council that Qyburn heard from a Myrish galley that the Golden Company are making their way to Volantis, so if they mean to cross to Westeros they are marching the wrong way.
A Dance with Dragons
Before the Golden Company broke their contract, the Yunkish attempted to contract the Golden Company for their campaign on Slaver's Bay. An envoy offered twice what Myr was paying them, plus a slave for every man in the company, ten for every officer, and a hundred choice maidens for the commander, Harry Strickland. Harry told the envoy he would think on his proposal; he thought a blunt refusal might have been unwise as his men would think he had taken leave of his wits.
Daenerys Targaryen recalls that when she was a girl her brother, Viserys, once feasted the captains of the Golden Company in the hopes they might take up his cause. They ate his food and heard his pleas and laughed at him.
The exiled Lord Jon Connington, now calling himself "Griff", remembers secret plans with the previous captain-general, Myles Toyne. They plotted with Illyrio to eventually have "Young Griff", whom they claim is Prince Aegon Targaryen, marry Daenerys and claim the Iron Throne. Jon is unsure if Myles's successor, Homeless Harry, is aware of the plan.
Once at Volon Therys the men of the company are frustrated by Illyrio's constantly changing plans when they learn that Daenerys has stayed in Meereen. They decide to swear allegiance to Aegon VI Targaryen and join him in an invasion of Westeros.
Soon thereafter the company sails with Jon and Aegon from Volon Therys for Westeros via Lys. During the landing of the Golden Company in the stormlands and the Stepstones, the sellswords quickly take the castles of Griffin's Roost, Rain House, Crow's Nest, and Greenstone. Their next plan is to take Storm's End, which is held by Ser Gilbert Farring for Stannis Baratheon.
A partial breakdown:
- 500 knights, each having three horses.
- 500 squires, each having one horse.
- 1,000 archers, a third of these archers are listed as crossbowmen while another third are said to be using double-curved horn-and-sinew bows of the east. The final part of the archers consist of men with Westerosi blood who use big yew long bows, and fifty summer islanders using great bows of goldenheart. 
- Aegor Rivers, called Bittersteel, founder and first captain-general.
- Daemon Blackfyre, killed by his cousin Maelys Blackfyre for command of company.
- Maelys I Blackfyre, last of the Blackfyre pretenders.
- Myles Toyne, called Blackheart.
- Harry Strickland, called Homeless Harry, the current company commander.
- Black Balaq, commander of the company archers.
- Lysono Maar, company spymaster.
- Gorys Edoryen, company paymaster.
- Jon Connington, served five years in the company.
- Franklyn Flowers, the Bastard of Cider Hall, a knight.
- Tristan Rivers, bastard, outlaw, and exiled knight.
- Marq Mandrake, exiled knight.
- Laswell Peake, exiled lord.
- Pykewood Peake, brother of Laswell.
- Torman Peake, brother of Laswell.
- Brendel Byrne, serjeant.
- Chains, serjeant.
- Dick Cole, serjeant.
- Will Cole, serjeant.
- Caspor Hill, serjeant.
- Malo Jayn, serjeant.
- Jon Lothston, serjeant.
- Lorimas Mudd, serjeant.
- Old John Mudd
- Young John Mudd, serjeant.
- Lymond Pease, serjeant.
- Denys Strong, serjeant.
- Duncan Strong, serjeant.
- Humfrey Stone, serjeant.
- Rolly Duckfield, served in the company as an apprentice smith, then Harry Strickland's squire.
- Watkyn, Harry Strickland's squire and cupbearer.
Tyrion: How did you convince the Golden Company to take up the cause of our sweet queen when they have spent so much of their history fighting against the Targaryens?
Illyrio: Black or red, a dragon is still a dragon. When Maelys the Monstrous died upon the Stepstones, it was the end of the male line of House Blackfyre. And Daenerys will give the exiles what Bittersteel and the Blackfyres never could. She will take them home.
Ghosts and liars… Revenants from forgotten wars, lost causes, failed rebellions, a brotherhood of the failed and the fallen, the disgraced and the disinherited. This is my army. This is our best hope.
– Jon Connington's thoughts
Harry: The plan—Tristan: Which plan? ... The fat man's plan? The one that changes every time the moon turns? First Viserys Targaryen was to join us with fifty thousand Dothraki screamers at his back. Then the Beggar King was dead, and it was to be his sister, a pliable young child queen who was on her way to Pentos with three new-hatched dragons. Instead the girl turns up on Slaver's Bay and leaves a string of burning cities in her wake, and the fat man decides we should meet her by Volantis. Now that plan is in ruins as well. I have had enough of Illyrio's plans. Robert Baratheon won the Iron Throne without the benefit of dragons. We can do the same.
- Arianne II (The Winds of Winter)
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Aegor Rivers.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
- A Game of Thrones RPG and Resource Book, Guardians of Order
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 24, The Lost Lord.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 16, Daenerys III, page 210.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
- A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion III.