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's chief advisor and executor of his command in the Seven Kingdoms.

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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.

After the War of Conquest Orys Baratheon served as the first ever Hand of the King to Aegon I. The title of hand derives its name from Aegons description of Orys as...


...My shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand [1]

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."[2] 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.

List of Known Hands

During the reign of King Hand of the King Period and Notes
Tommen Baratheon Mace Tyrell 300AC - Present
Orton Merryweather 300AC - 300AC
Harys Swyft 300AC - 300AC
Tywin Lannister 300AC - 300AC. Served as Hand as well under Joffrey Baratheon and Aerys II Targaryen.
Joffrey Baratheon Tywin Lannister 298AC - 300AC. Served as Hand as well under Aerys II Targaryen.
Tyrion Lannister Was acting hand during his father Tywin Lannisters 2nd term as Hand, while he was campaigning in the Riverlands.
Robert Baratheon Eddard Stark 298AC - 298AC
Jon Arryn 283AC - 298AC
Aerys II Targaryen Lord Rossart 283AC - 283AC. Was Hand for a fortnight.
Qarlton Chelsted 283AC - 283AC. He bravely resigned his position over Aerys' plan to burn King's Landing and was subsequently burned alive for it.
Jon Connington 282AC - 283AC. Fired from his office and exiled after losing the Battle of the Bells.
Owen Merryweather 281AC - 283AC
Tywin Lannister 262AC - 281AC
Jaehaerys II Targaryen Unknown 259AC - 262AC
Aegon V Targaryen Unknown 233AC - 259AC
Maekar I Targaryen Unknown 221AC - 233AC
Aerys I Targaryen Brynden Rivers 209AC - 221AC. In the end, he was stripped of office by Maekar I and locked into the Black Cells.
Daeron II Targaryen Prince Valarr Targaryen 209AC - 209AC
Prince Baelor Targaryen 196AC - 209AC
Lord Hayford 196AC - 196AC. Died at the Redgrass Field.
Ambrose Butterwell Unknown - 196AC
Aegon IV Targaryen Lord Butterwell Unknown - Unknown
Viserys II Targaryen Unknown 171AC - 172AC
Baelor I Targaryen Prince Viserys Targaryen 161AC - 171AC
Daeron I Targaryen Prince Viserys Targaryen 157AC - 161AC
Aegon III Targaryen Prince Viserys Targaryen Unknown - 157AC
Unknown 131AC - Unknown. Several Regents and Hands followed in the Regent Wars.
Aegon II Targaryen Criston Cole 130AC - 130AC. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Otto Hightower 129AC - 130AC
Viserys I Targaryen Otto Hightower 120AC - 129AC. Reinstated after predecessor's death.
Lyonel Strong 109AC - 120AC. Died in a fire at Harrenhal.
Otto Hightower 103AC - 109AC. Removed as Hand, after pushing the inheritance of his daughter's sons over Princess Rhaenyra.
Jaehaerys I Targaryen Otto Hightower 101AC - 103AC. Succeeded Baelon
Prince Baelon Targaryen Unknown - 101AC
Ryam Redwyne Unknown - Unknown. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Septon Barth Served as Hand for forty years.
Maegor I Targaryen Unknown 42AC - 48AC
Aenys I Targaryen Prince Maegor Targaryen 37AC - 42AC
Orys Baratheon 37AC - 37AC
Aegon I Targaryen Orys Baratheon 1AC - 37AC. First ever Hand of the King.


Hand of the king brooch, from the TV Series

Time unknown

A list of some of the worst Hands, Whose names are remembered as 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. Robert was offering him a responsibility as large as the realm itself. It was the last thing in the world he wanted.
- Ned


"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


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

References and Notes

  1. Bubonicon Report, August 25, 2012 So Spake Martin
  2. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard.
  3. A Clash of Kings, Prologue, p 17.
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