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Hand of the King

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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 king on the Iron Throne's chief advisor and is the executor of his command in the Seven Kingdoms.

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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 1AC - 37AC. First Hand of the King.
Aenys I Targaryen Lord Orys Baratheon 37AC - 37AC
Prince Maegor Targaryen 37AC - 42AC
Maegor I Targaryen Unknown 42AC - 48AC
Jaehaerys I Targaryen Septon Barth Served as Hand for forty years.
Ser Ryam Redwyne Unknown - Unknown. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Prince Baelon Targaryen Unknown - 101AC
Ser Otto Hightower 101AC - 103AC. Succeeded Baelon
Viserys I Targaryen Ser Otto Hightower 103AC - 109AC. Removed as Hand after pushing the inheritance of his daughter's sons over Princess Rhaenyra.
Lord Lyonel Strong 109AC - 120AC. Died in a fire at Harrenhal.
Ser Otto Hightower 120AC - 129AC. Reinstated after predecessor's death.
Aegon II Targaryen Ser Otto Hightower 129AC - 130AC
Ser Criston Cole 130AC - 130AC. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Died at the Battle at the stony ridge.
Aegon III Targaryen Ser Tyland Lannister 131AC - 133AC. Died of a winter chill.
Unknown 133AC - Unknown
Prince Viserys Targaryen Unknown - 157AC
Daeron I Targaryen Prince Viserys Targaryen 157AC - 161AC
Baelor I Targaryen Prince Viserys Targaryen 161AC - 171AC
Viserys II Targaryen Unknown 171AC - 172AC
Aegon IV Targaryen Lord Butterwell Unknown - Unknown
Daeron II Targaryen Lord Ambrose Butterwell Unknown - 196AC. Removed for failing to contain the First Blackfyre Rebellion.
Lord Hayford 196AC - 196AC. Died at the Redgrass Field.
Prince Baelor Targaryen 196AC - 209AC. Died after a blow to the head suffered in the Trial of Seven during the Ashford Tourney.
Prince Valarr Targaryen 209AC - 209AC. Died during the Great Spring Sickness.
Aerys I Targaryen Brynden Rivers 209AC - 221AC. In the end, he was stripped of office by Maekar I and locked into the Black Cells.
Maekar I Targaryen Unknown 221AC - 233AC
Aegon V Targaryen Unknown 233AC - 259AC
Jaehaerys II Targaryen Unknown 259AC - 262AC
Aerys II Targaryen Lord Tywin Lannister 262AC - 281AC. Resigned his post for Aerys's slights against him.
Lord Owen Merryweather 281AC - 283AC. Removed from office and exiled for failing to contain Robert's Rebellion.
Lord Jon Connington 282AC - 283AC. Removed from his office and exiled after losing the Battle of the Bells.
Lord Qarlton Chelsted 283AC - 283AC. He bravely resigned his position over Aerys's plan to burn King's Landing and was subsequently burned alive for it.
Wisdom Rossart 283AC - 283AC. Was Hand for a fortnight.
Robert Baratheon Lord Jon Arryn 283AC - 298AC
Lord Eddard Stark 298AC - 298AC
Joffrey Baratheon Tyrion Lannister Was acting Hand during his father Tywin Lannister's second term as Hand, while Tywin was campaigning in the Riverlands.
Lord Tywin Lannister 298AC - 300AC. Served as Hand as well under Aerys II Targaryen.
Tommen Baratheon Lord Tywin Lannister 300AC - 300AC. Served as Hand as well under Joffrey Baratheon and Aerys II Targaryen.
Ser Harys Swyft 300AC - 300AC
Lord Orton Merryweather 300AC - 300AC
Lord Mace Tyrell 300AC - Present
Hand of the King brooch, from Game of Thrones

Time unknown

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

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