Hand of the King

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Lord Eddard Stark, Hand of the King. © Fantasy Flight Games
Tyrion Lannister, acting as Hand of the King, wears the necklace of linked hands. © Fantasy Flight Games
© Fantasy Flight Games

The Hand of the King is the chief advisor to the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and is the executor of the king's command in the Seven Kingdoms.

About

Duties of the Hand include commanding the king's armies, drafting laws, dispensing justice, and generally managing the day-to-day running of the kingdom. The Hand may act on the king's behalf when he is indisposed, and sit the Iron Throne while doing so. The Hand also sits on the small council and will run the council if the king is not present.

The office typically makes the Hand the second-most powerful man in the kingdom next to the king, though some Hands had the reputation of ruling their kings.

It is considered by some to be a difficult and unglamorous job of great responsibility. A popular saying goes, "What the king dreams, the Hand builds," but the lowborn say, "The king eats, and the Hand takes the shit."[1] Many able men have failed in the office throughout history.

The Hand resides in a tower of the Red Keep called the Tower of the Hand. His badge of office always includes a hand, though each Hand can design his own. A necklace of hands linked into a chain is one possible badge. Servants of the Hand wear the emblem of a hand.

History

After the Targaryen War of Conquest Orys Baratheon served as the first Hand, serving King Aegon I Targaryen. The title of hand derives its name from Aegon's description of Orys as

...My shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand.[2]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Upon the death of his Hand, Lord Jon Arryn, King Robert Baratheon asks Lord Eddard Stark to serve as Lord Arryn's replacement. After Robert dies, however, his son, Joffrey Baratheon, has Ned Stark executed. Joffrey's grandfather, Lord Tywin Lannister serves as the new Hand of the King.

A Clash of King

Because he is campaigning during the War of the Five Kings, Tywin has his son, Tyrion Lannister, serve as the acting Hand in King's Landing.

Lord Alester Florent serves as the Hand to Stannis Baratheon, a rival claimant to the Iron Throne. Lord Mace Tyrell serves as Hand to Renly Baratheon, who is killed at Storm's End.

A Storm of Swords

Following the Battle of the Blackwater, Tywin serves as Hand to Joffrey and, after Joffrey's death, to King Tommen Baratheon. Tywin is then murdered by Tyrion, who flees the city.

Stannis chooses Ser Davos Seaworth to be his new Hand, as Alester is arrested for treason.

A Feast for Crows

Ser Harys Swyft and then Lord Orton Merryweather serve as Hand for Tommen's mother, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister.

A Dance with Dragons

Following Cersei's arrest by the Faith of the Seven Orton Merryweather abandons the capital and his post, Kevan Lannister, as Regent, elevates Mace Tyrell to Hand of the King for Tommen.

Ser Barristan Selmy serves as Hand to Queen Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen.

Lord Jon Connington is the Hand to King Aegon VI Targaryen.

List of Known Hands

During the reign of King Hand of the King Period and Notes
Aegon I Targaryen Lord Orys Baratheon 1 AC - 7 AC. First Hand of the King.
Lord Edmyn Tully 7 AC - 9 AC
Ser Osmund Strong Unknown. Known to be Hand in 19 AC - 26 AC, oversaw construction of wall around King's Landing
Aenys I Targaryen Lord Alyn Stokeworth 37 AC
Prince Maegor Targaryen 37 AC - 39 AC
Septon Murmison 39 AC - 41 AC
Maegor I Targaryen Lord Lucas Harroway Unknown - 44 AC
Lord Edwell Celtigar 44 AC - 48 AC
Jaehaerys I Targaryen Lord Robar Baratheon 48 AC - Unknown
Septon Barth 59 AC - 99 AC
Ser Ryam Redwyne 99 AC - 100 AC. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Prince Baelon Targaryen 100 AC - 101 AC
Ser Otto Hightower 101 AC - 109 AC. Removed as Hand after pushing the inheritance of his daughter's sons over Princess Rhaenyra.
Viserys I Targaryen
Lord Lyonel Strong 109 AC - 120 AC. Died in a fire at Harrenhal.
Ser Otto Hightower 120 AC - 130 AC. Reinstated after predecessor's death.
Aegon II Targaryen
Ser Criston Cole 130 AC. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Died at the Butcher's Ball.
Aegon III Targaryen Lord Cregan Stark 131 AC. Only held position for a day, before returning to the North.
Ser Tyland Lannister 131 AC - 133 AC. Died of a winter chill.
Lord Unwin Peake 133 AC - 134 AC
Lord Thaddeus Rowan 134 AC - Unknown
Ser Marston Waters Unknown - Unknown
Grand Maester Munkun Unknown
Lord Torrhen Manderly Unknown - 136 AC. Dismissed when King came of age.
Prince Viserys Targaryen Unknown - 171 AC
Daeron I Targaryen
Baelor I Targaryen
Viserys II Targaryen Unknown 171 AC - 172 AC
Aegon IV Targaryen Lord Bracken 172 AC - Unknown. Father of two of the king's mistresses.
Lord Butterwell Unknown - Unknown
Lord Lucas Lothston 178 AC. Husband of a king's mistress, father to a second of the king's mistresses
Lord Jon Hightower Unknown
Daeron II Targaryen Lord Ambrose Butterwell Unknown - 196 AC. Removed for failing to contain the First Blackfyre Rebellion.
Lord Hayford 196 AC. Died at the Redgrass Field.
Prince Baelor Targaryen 196 AC - 209 AC. Died after a blow to the head suffered in the Trial of Seven during the Ashford Tourney.
Prince Valarr Targaryen (Possibly) 209 AC. Died during the Great Spring Sickness. It is currently unknown whether Valarr is referred to as Hand in The Sworn Sword, or whether "the Hand" named as having died in the Spring Sickness is a separate individual.
Aerys I Targaryen Brynden Rivers 209 AC - 233 AC
Maekar I Targaryen
Aegon V Targaryen Unknown 233 AC - 259 AC
Jaehaerys II Targaryen Lord Ormund Baratheon 259 AC - 260 AC
Edgar Sloane Unknown - 262 AC
Aerys II Targaryen Lord Tywin Lannister 262 AC - 281 AC. Resigned his post for Aerys's slights against him.
Lord Owen Merryweather 281 AC - 282 AC. Removed from office and exiled for failing to contain Robert's Rebellion.
Lord Jon Connington 282 AC - 283 AC. Removed from his office and exiled after losing the Battle of the Bells.
Lord Qarlton Chelsted 283 AC. He bravely resigned his position over Aerys's plan to burn King's Landing and was subsequently burned alive for it.
Wisdom Rossart 283 AC. Was Hand for a fortnight. Named after the Battle of the Trident.
Robert Baratheon Lord Jon Arryn 283 AC - 298 AC
Lord Eddard Stark 298 AC
Joffrey Baratheon Lord Tywin Lannister 298 AC - 300 AC. Served as Hand as well under Aerys II Targaryen. While he was campaigning in the Riverlands, his son Tyrion was acting Hand (298 AC - 299 AC).
Tommen Baratheon
Ser Harys Swyft 300 AC
Lord Orton Merryweather 300 AC
Lord Mace Tyrell 300 AC - Present
Hand of the King brooch, from Game of Thrones

Time unknown

  • Myles Smallwood ? - ?, regarded as one of the worst Hands and a warning to future generations.

Hands of Claimants to the Iron Throne

Quotes

The Hand of the King was the second-most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms. He spoke with the king’s voice, commanded the king’s armies, drafted the king’s laws. At times he even sat upon the Iron Throne to dispense king's justice, when the king was absent, or sick, or otherwise indisposed. Robert was offering him a responsibility as large as the realm itself. It was the last thing in the world he wanted.[1]
- thoughts of Eddard Stark


I sat on his council for fifteen years, helping Jon Arryn rule his realm while Robert drank and whored, but when Jon died, did my brother name me his Hand? No, he went galloping off to his dear friend Ned Stark, and offered him the honor. And small good it did either of them.[3]
- Stannis Baratheon to Cressen


A weak ruler needs a strong Hand, as Aerys needed Father. A strong ruler requires only a diligent servant to carry out his orders.[4]
- Cersei Lannister to Jaime Lannister


The Hand should speak with the king's voice.[5]
- thoughts of Davos Seaworth

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
  2. Bubonicon Report, August 25, 2012 So Spake Martin
  3. A Clash of Kings, Prologue, p 17.
  4. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  5. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 19, Davos III.

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