Hand of the King
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." 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. Brynden Rivers used a iron brooch, Eddard Stark used a silver clasp, while Tyrion and Tywin Lannister used a golden chain. Servants of the Hand might wear the emblem of a hand.
...My shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand.
Because of Aegon's description, Orys is regarded to have been the first Hand of the King.
A Game of Thrones
Upon the death of his Hand, Lord Jon Arryn, King Robert I 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. Because Tywin is capaigning in the riverlands during the War of the Five Kings, he sends his younger son, Tyrion to serve as acting Hand to King's Landing.
A Clash of King
A Storm of Swords
Lord Alester Florent serves as the Hand to Stannis Baratheon, a rival claimant to the Iron Throne. After Alester has been arrested and executed for treason, Axell Florent tries to make Davos Seaworth advise Stannis to name himself as Hand of the King, but Stannis chooses Davos to be his new Hand instead.
A Feast for Crows
After she fails to convince Jaime Lannister to become Hand, and refuses to meet the terms Ser Kevan Lannister has for the office, Ser Harys Swyft and later Lord Orton Merryweather serve as Hand of the King for King Tommen I Baratheon, chosen by his mother, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister. After Cersei is arrested by the Faith of the Seven, Merryweather resigns the small council and flees King's Landing.
Prior to the Kingsmoot, Asha Greyjoy offers to support her uncle Victarion in the Kingsmoot if he names her Hand of the King. Victarion rejects her offer due to their contrasting views on the ironborn war for the North, and Asha and Victarion each stand in the kingsmoot, both losing to Euron Greyjoy.
A Dance with Dragons
List of known Hands
|During the reign of King||Hand of the King||Period and Notes|
|Aegon I Targaryen||Lord Orys Baratheon||1–7 AC. First Hand of the King.|
|Lord Edmyn Tully||7–9 AC|
|Lord Alton Celtigar||9–17 AC|
|Ser Osmund Strong||17–34 AC|
|Lord Alyn Stokeworth||34–37 AC|
|Aenys I Targaryen||Lord Alyn Stokeworth||37 AC|
|Prince Maegor Targaryen||37–39 AC|
|Septon Murmison||39–41 AC|
|Maegor I Targaryen||Lord Lucas Harroway||43–44 AC. By orders of the king, he was thrown from the roof of the Tower of the Hand by knights of the Kingsguard.|
|Lord Edwell Celtigar||44–48 AC|
|Jaehaerys I Targaryen||Lord Rogar Baratheon||48–50 AC|
|Lord Daemon Velaryon||50–54 AC|
|Lord Myles Smallwood||54–57 AC|
|Septon Barth||58–98 AC[N 1]|
|Ser Ryam Redwyne||99–100 AC. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.|
|Prince Baelon Targaryen||100–101 AC|
|Ser Otto Hightower||101–103 AC|
|Viserys I Targaryen||Ser Otto Hightower||103–109 AC. Removed as Hand after pushing the inheritance of his daughter's sons over Princess Rhaenyra.|
|Lord Lyonel Strong||109–120 AC. Died in a fire at Harrenhal.|
|Ser Otto Hightower||120–130 AC. Reinstated after predecessor's death.|
|Aegon II Targaryen||Ser Otto Hightower||130 AC. Executed by Rhaenyra 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 office for a day, before returning to the North.|
|Ser Tyland Lannister||131–133 AC. Died of Winter Fever.|
|Lord Unwin Peake||133–134 AC. Resigned the office after the king turned down a marriage proposal with his daughter.|
|Lord Thaddeus Rowan||134–135 AC. Imprisoned and tortured by plotters seeking to undermine the Rogare family's influance over the court.|
|Ser Marston Waters||135 AC. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Participated in a plot to imprison Lord Thaddeus Rowan and members of the Rogare family present at court. He was then named Hand, however, he died trying to arrest his sworn brother, Ser Mervyn Flowers, a fortnight later.|
|Lord Thaddeus Rowan||135 AC. Reinstalled after the imprisonment of plotters and death of Ser Marston Waters. However, after a moon's turn he was dismissed once again due to poor mental condition.|
|Grand Maester Munkun||135–136 AC. Served as Hand until the election of a new Hand in the Council of 136 AC.|
|Lord Torrhen Manderly||136 AC. Elected as the new Hand during the Council of 136 AC. Dismissed when king came of age.|
|Prince Viserys Targaryen||Unknown–157 AC|
|Daeron I Targaryen||Prince Viserys Targaryen||157–161 AC|
|Baelor I Targaryen||Prince Viserys Targaryen||161–171 AC|
|Viserys II Targaryen||Unknown||171–172 AC|
|Aegon IV Targaryen||Lord Bracken||172 AC–Unknown. Father of two of the king's mistresses.|
|Lord Lucas Lothston||178 AC. Husband of a king's mistress, father to a second of the king's mistresses.|
|Lord Jon Hightower||Unknown–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 Battle of the Redgrass Field.|
|Prince Baelor Targaryen||196–209 AC. Died after a blow to the head suffered in the trial of seven during the tourney at Ashford Meadow.|
|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||209–221 AC|
|Maekar I Targaryen||Brynden Rivers||221–233 AC|
|Aegon V Targaryen||Unknown||233–259 AC|
|Jaehaerys II Targaryen||Lord Ormund Baratheon||259–260 AC|
|Edgar Sloane||Unknown–262 AC|
|Aerys II Targaryen||Ser/Lord Tywin Lannister||262–281 AC. Resigned his post for Aerys's slights against him.|
|Lord Owen Merryweather||281–282 AC. Removed from office and exiled for failing to contain Robert's Rebellion.|
|Lord Jon Connington||282–283 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 I Baratheon||Lord Jon Arryn||283–298 AC|
|Lord Eddard Stark||298 AC|
|Joffrey I Baratheon||Lord Tywin Lannister||298–300 AC. Served as Hand as well under Aerys II Targaryen. While he was campaigning in the Riverlands, his son Tyrion was acting Hand (298–299 AC).|
|Tommen I Baratheon|
|Ser Harys Swyft||300 AC|
|Lord Orton Merryweather||300 AC|
|Lord Mace Tyrell||300 AC–Present|
Hands of claimants to the Iron Throne
- Lord Corlys Velaryon, for Rhaenyra Targaryen
- Lord Mace Tyrell, for Renly Baratheon before Renly's death.
- Lord Alester Florent, for Stannis Baratheon, later removed and executed for treason.
- Lord Davos Seaworth, for Stannis Baratheon
- Ser Axell Florent, self-styled Hand of the Queen for Selyse Florent
- Ser Barristan Selmy for Daenerys Targaryen
- Lord Jon Connington for Aegon VI Targaryen
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.—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.
The Hand should speak with the king's voice.—thoughts of Davos Seaworth
Davos: The King's Hand should be a highborn lord, someone wise and learned, a battle commander or a great knight...
Pylos: Ser Ryam Redwyne was the greatest knight of his day, and one of the worst Hands ever to serve a king. Septon Murmison's prayers worked miracles, but as Hand he soon had the whole realm praying for his death. Lord Butterwell was renowned for wit, Myles Smallwood for courage, Ser Otto Hightower for learning, yet they failed as Hands, every one. As for birth, the dragonkings oft chose Hands from amongst their own blood, with results as various as Baelor Breakspear and Maegor the Cruel. Against this, you have Septon Barth, the blacksmith's son the Old King plucked from the Red Keep's library, who gave the realm forty years of peace and plenty. Read your history, Lord Davos, and you will see that your doubts are groundless.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
- The Mystery Knight.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard VIII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 32, Sansa III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Appendix.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 77, Tyrion XI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 3, Cersei I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39, Cersei IX.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 18, The Iron Captain.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
- A Feast for Crows, Appendix.
- A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 39, Jon VIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 70, The Queen's Hand.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
- The Winds of Winter, Chapter Arianne I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Riverlands: House Tully.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aenys I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
- Fire & Blood, Prince into King - The Ascension of Jaehaerys I.
- Fire & Blood, A Surfeit of Rulers.
- Fire & Blood, A Time of Testing - The Realm Remade.
- Fire & Blood, Birth, Death and Betrayal under Jaehaerys I.
- Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys I.
- The Rogue Prince.
- The Princess and the Queen.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
- Fire & Blood, Aftermath - The Hour of the Wolf.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Viserys II Targaryen.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 59, Sansa IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
- The Sworn Sword.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys I.
- The Hedge Knight.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maekar I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: Robert's Rebellion.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The End.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 19, Davos III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.