Golden Company

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Golden Company
Urukki Saki Beneath the Gold the Bitter Steel.jpg
The Golden Company - by Urukki Saki ©
Banner Solid gold banners, with no designs or devices.[1]
Motto/War Cry "Our word is good as gold"[2]
"Beneath the gold, the bitter steel"[3]
Current Commander Harry Strickland
Size 10,000 men
Founded 212 AC[4]
Founder Aegor Rivers

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",[2] while their war cry, "Beneath the gold, the bitter steel", pays homage to their founder.[3]

History

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's reputation was quickly established when Qohor refused to honor the contract it had made. The sellswords of the Golden Company sacked Qohor as an answer to Qohor's refusal.[5]

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.[6][7] 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.

Culture

A pike with gilded skulls by Scafloc

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.[8]

The captain-general's tent is made of cloth-of-gold and surrounded by a ring of pikes topped with gilded skulls. They prefer to call themselves a free brotherhood of exiles, rather than sellswords.[1]

Recent Events

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.[9] 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.[2]

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.[9]

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.[8]

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.[10]

While traveling on Valyrian roads to Ghoyan Drohe, Tyrion Lannister learns from Illyrio Mopatis that the Golden Company is marching to Volantis to join with Daenerys Targaryen, Queen of Meereen.[6]

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.[8]

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.[8]

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,[11] which is held by Ser Gilbert Farring for Stannis Baratheon.

Composition

Discipline is like mother's milk to the men of the Golden Company. ©FFG
The Golden Company encamped - © Marc Fishman

The Golden Company consist of 10,000 men, several thousands horses and a number of elephants.

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. [11]

Notable Members

Captain-generals

Members


Quotes

A brotherhood of exiles and the sons of exiles, united by the dream of Bittersteel. It's home they want, as much as gold.[2]
Arianne Martell, to Arys Oakheart


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.[6]

Tyrion Lannister and Illyrio Mopatis


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.[8]
Jon Connington's thoughts


Lysono: The first Aegon took Westeros without eunuchs. Why shouldn't the sixth Aegon do the same?

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.[8]

- Lysono Maar, Harry Strickland, and Tristan Rivers

See also

References and Notes

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