Hedge knight

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A hedge knight. © Fantasy Flight Games

A hedge knight is a wandering knight without a master, many are quite poor. Hedge knights travel the length and breadth of Westeros looking for gainful employment.

About

Hedge knights are so named because most of their worldly wealth is in their arms and horses and they generally must sleep outdoors, under a hedge. Contrary to landed knights, hedge knights own no land. Daenerys Targaryen recalls that her brother Viserys had told her of knights so poor that they had to sleep beneath the ancient hedges that grew along the byways of the Seven Kingdoms.[1]

A hedge however can be quite a good place to sleep. There are, for example, many fine hedges throughout the Riverlands; the old ones are the best. There is nothing that can beat a hundred- year-old hedge. Inside one of those a man can sleep as snug as at an inn, and with less fear of fleas.[2] The hedge knight Ser Arlan of Pennytree never ventured north with his squire Dunk as he thought that there were no hedges there, and all the woods full of wolves.[3]

Most hedge knights travel in search of employment and often attend jousts to make money and display their prowess in hopes of being hired and making a name for themselves.

Less scrupulous hedge knights put their martial training to use by resorting to banditry.[4] For this reason, hedge knights are often mistrusted and considered disreputable. The term "hedge knight" itself is considered disparaging,[4] although Ser Humfrey, who had a distinguished career as one of the first seven appointed to the Kingsguard, was a hedge knight.[5] Some hedge knights can be described as “upjumped” Brienne of Tarth thinks to herself that hedge knights have an unsavoury reputation.[6] She recalls that it is said that,

A hedge knight and a robber knight are two sides of the same sword.[7]

Nonetheless there are some chivalrous hedge knights who value their honour and who try to uphold their vows, in fact sometimes more so than in comparison to other knights who are higher up in the social strata. Even knights of the Kingsguard have been known to dishonour themselves by beating a helpless maid.[8]

The Hedge Knight

George R. R. Martin has written a short story called the The Hedge Knight which follows the adventures of Ser Duncan “Dunk” the Tall and the incognito squire he takes on named Egg. The Hedge Knight is the first of the "Dunk and Egg" stories. Readers can learn more about the life of a hedge knight through these stories. Ser Duncan the Tall claimed he was knighted by Ser Arlan of Pennytree. Ser Duncan the Tall later went on to become a legendary member of the Kingsguard and Lord Commander.

Known hedge knights


Quotes

Other knights serve the lords who keep them, of from whom they hold their lands, but we serve where we will, for men whose causes we believe in.
– Ser Arlan of Pennytree


Hedge knights, old and vain and plump and nearsighted, yet decent men for all that.[7]
Brienne of Tarth, on Ser Illifer the Penniless and Ser Creighton Longbough

References and Notes

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