House Gardener

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House Gardener of Highgarden
House Gardner.PNG
Coat of arms Argent, a hand couped vert
Seat Highgarden
Current Lord Extinct
Region The Reach
Title King of the Reach
Lord of Highgarden
Cadet Branch House Tyrell
House Florent
House Rowan
House Oakheart
House Oldflowers
possibly more houses from The Reach
Founder Garth the Gardener
Founded Age of Heroes
Died out 1 AC in the War of Conquest

House Gardener of Highgarden is the extinct house of the old and famed Kings of the Reach. Beginning with the mythical first king Garth the Gardener the Gardeners ruled, through war and peace and the assimilation with the Andal invaders, down the generations until the last Gardener king Mern IX Gardener and his kin were killed at the Field of Fire in the War of Conquest.

Their seat was Highgarden, and the Gardener kings sat upon a living throne called the Oakenseat that grew from an oak that the mythical Garth Greenhand himself was reputedly said to have planted. The Kings of House Gardener wore crowns of vines and flowers when at peace, and crowns of bronze thorns (later iron) when they rode to war.[1] Their blazon was a green hand over a white field.[2][3]

History

The Gardeners claimed descent from the mythical Garth Greenhand who according to legend is said to have been the High King who lead the First Men across the Arm of Dorne and is the ancestor of numerous noble houses in the Reach. His firstborn child was Garth the Gardener; the legendary first King of the Reach, who reigned in the Age of Heroes, and the founder of House Gardener.[4] According to legend, Garth the Gardener made his home on the hill atop the Mander river that in time would become known as Highgarden, and wore a crown of vines and flowers. From his loins sprang House Gardener, whose kings would rule the Reach for many thousands of years.[4]

The Gardener kings initially ruled the Reach proper, although over time they expanded their territory. The western marches between Horn Hill and Nightsong would come to be added to the Gardener's domain. King Garth III (the Great) extended the borders of his realm northward, winning Old Oak, Red Lake, and Goldengrove with pacts of friendship and mutual defence. Meryn III brought the Arbor into the Kingdom and made House Redwyne his vassals after his cousin, the last King of the Arbor, was lost at sea.[5] Not long after, King Garland II (the Bridegroom) brought House Hightower of Oldtown and their domains into the realm by wedding his daughter to Lymond Hightower whilst putting aside his own wives to marry Lord Lymand's daughter.[1] King Gwayne III (the Fat) persuaded Lords Manderly and Peake to accept his judgement on their quarrel, and do fealty for their lands without any bloodshed. John II (the Tall) sailed his barge up the Mander to its headwaters, planting the Gardener banner wherever he went and receiving homage from lords and petty kings. [1]

The Gardener kings often warred with the Ironborn, sometimes in alliance with the Kings of the Rock and the Lords of Oldtown, and sometimes alone. No fewer than six Gardener kings died in battle against the Ironmen, amongst them Gareth II (the Grim) and Garth VI (the Morningstar), whilst Gyles II was taken captive and tortured to death by a High King of the Iron Islands, and then cut into small pieces to bait his captor's hooks. Other warrior kings from this time include Garth V (Hammer of the Dornish), Gwayne I (the Gallant), Gyles I (the Woe), and Gordan I (Grey-Eyes).[1]

The Golden Reign

The greatest of all the Gardener Kings was King Garth VII Gardener, known as the Goldenhand, considered a giant in both war and peace. Ascending to the Oakenseat at age twelve, Garth ruled for eighty-one years, of which less than ten were spent at war. In the few times Garth Goldenhand did go to war he utterly trounced his adversaries. As a boy he turned back King Ferris Fowler's attempt to invade from Dorne, drove the Ironborn from the Shield Islands and fortified them with men from the Reach, and divided an alliance between the King of the Rock and Storm King before defeating both in battle and dictating the boundaries of their three kingdoms in the aftermath.

But Garth's main priority was keeping the peace, and his greatest accomplishment was giving his people three-quarters of a century of golden peace. Generations of boys were born and grew to manhood, sired children of their own and died without ever having to know what it was to grasp a spear and shield and march away to war. And with this long peace came an unprecedented prosperity. Garth's rule would in time became known as the Golden Reign, and was when the Reach truly flowered.

Arrival of the Andals

See also: Three Sage Kings

Long before the Andals arrived in the Reach, the Kings in Highgarden had become aware of their coming after crossing the Narrow Sea. The Gardener Kings observed from afar all the fighting first in the Vale, then as it spread to the Riverlands and Stormlands, taking note of all that happened. Wisely, the Gardeners avoided making the same mistake of the First Men Vale Lords of allying with the Andal invaders against local rivals, and set about instead taking precautions against possible Andal invasions.

King Gwayne IV (the Gods-fearing) sent out his warriors to find the Children of the Forest, hoping their magic would turn back the Andal invaders. Mern II (the Mason) constructed a new curtain wall around Highgarden and commanded his Lord Bannermen likewise to see to their own defences. Mern III (the Madling) showered Gold and honors on a woods witch who claimed that she could raise armies of the dead to repulse the Andals back.

However, none of the anticipated great battles ever came to pass and generations passed until the time of the Three Sage Kings who followed one other on the Oakenseat. The Three Sage Kings were a trio of Kings of the Reach that dealt with the Andal invasion with a policy of accord and assimilation rather then armed resistance. They were Garth IX, his son Merle I (the Meek), and his grandson Gwayne V.

The first of the Sage Kings, Garth IX Gardener brought a Septon to his court and made him part of his councils. The first Sept at Highgarden was built during Garth’s reign, although he would continue worshipping the Old Gods. Garth was succeeded by his son Merle I. Unlike his father, Merle converted to the Faith of the Seven and become its leal patron, helping to fund and build Septs and Septries and motherhouses all across the Reach. Merle’s son and successor Gwayne V was the first Gardener King born into the new Faith, as well as the first to be made a knight.

All Three Sage Kings took Andals into their service as knights and retainers. Ser Alester Tyrell, the founder of House Tyrell, was made Gwayne V’s champion and sworn shield. Merle I and Gwayne V both took Andal maidens as their wives, as a means to bind the bride’s fathers to the Gardener’s realm. The Three Sage Kings also bequeathed lands and lordships for the more powerful of the Andal kings descending on the Reach in exchange for pledges of fealty. Many noble houses of the Reach can trace their ancestry back to Andal adventurers given lands and wives by the Three Sage Kings. The Gardeners also sought Andal craftsmen, specially blacksmiths and stonemasons, and encouraged their lords bannermen to do the same. Thus the First Men of the Reach learned to arm and armor themselves in iron instead of bronze and strengthen their castles with Andal masonry. Though some of the new-made lords broke their vows in later years, most remained loyal and helped their kings and liege lords put down the rebels and also defend the Reach from invading Andal petty kings and warbands.[6]

Later Rule

The centuries that followed the assimilation with the Andals were to prove less peaceful. The Gardener kings who succeeded to the Oakenseat included strong and weak men, clever men and fools, and one time even a woman, but few had the wisdom and cunning of the Three Sage Kings, so the golden peace of Garth VII did not come again.[6]

In the long epoch between the assimilation of the Andals and the War of Conquest, the Kings of the Reach constantly warred with their neighbours in a perpetual struggle for land, power and glory. The Kings of the Rock, the Storm Kings, the many quarrelsome kings of Dorne, and the Kings of the Rivers and the Hills could all be counted amongst their foes, and ofttimes amongst their allies as well.[6]

Highgarden reached the apex of its power under King Gyles III Gardener. Taking the majority of his forces with him, Gyles rode out to war against the Storm King and conquered all the lands north of the Rainwood save for Storm's End, which he besieged for two years without result. Gyles might well have completed his conquest, but while he was away with his army in the east the Reach was attacked by the King of the Rock, forcing Gyles to lift the siege of Storm's End and hurry home to deal with the westermen.[2] A new broader war followed, involving three Dornish kings and two from the Riverlands, and ended with Gyles III dead of a bloody flux and the borders between the realms restored to more or less what they had been before hostilities began.[6]


The nadir of Gardener power came during the long reign of King Garth X, called Garth Greybeard. Neither wise nor clever, Garth became vain and frivolous, surrounded himself with fools and flatterers, and lost his wits entirely in old age, becoming the fool of one faction and then another. Near the end of his reign a problem arose with the succession as the elderly and senile Garth had fathered no sons, but instead married one daughter to Lord Peake and another to Lord Manderly, and each was determined that his wife should succeed Garth Greybeard to the throne. The rivalry between them was marked by betrayal, conspiracy, and murder, finally escalating into open war with other lords joining the cause of both sides.

With the Kingdom of the Reach in chaos and the King too feeble to grasp what was occurring, much less stop it, the Storm King and the King of the Rock seized the opportunity and took large swathes of territory, while Dornish raids grew bolder and more frequent. One Dornish king besieged Oldtown, while another crossed the Mander and sacked Highgarden. The Oakenseat was chopped to pieces whilst the senile King Garth X was also killed while soiled and whimpering in his bed. Highgarden was then put to the torch. The anarchy that followed lasted a decade until Ser Osmund Tyrell, the High Steward of Highgarden, made common cause with the other lords of the Reach and defeated the Peakes and Manderlys and reclaimed the ruins of Highgarden. Ser Osmund then placed a second cousin of the late king on the throne who ascended as King Mern VI Gardener.

Although a man of modest gifts, with the able counsel of Ser Osmund and later Osmund's son Ser Robert Tyrell and finally his grandson Lorent Tyrell, Mern began the successful reconstruction of the Reach and Highgarden and the power of House Gardener.[6] His son Garth XI, did the rest, taking such a terrible vengeance upon the Dornish that the then Lord of the Hightower said the Red Mountains had been green until Garth XI painted them with Dornish blood. For the remainder of his long reign, the king was known as Garth the Painter.[6]


Approximately a thousand years ago Lord Lorimar Peake drove House Manderly from the Reach at the behest of King Perceon III Gardener who feared the Manderly's growing influence and power in the Reach.[7] The Manderlys fled from the Mander for the White Knife in the North.[2][8][9] King Greydon Gardener attempted an invasion of Dorne, but was thrown back by Nymeria.[10] King Garse VII was killed by the last Storm King Argilac the Arrogant at the Battle of Summerfield.

War of Conquest and Extinction

See also: Field of Fire
End of House Gardener on the Field of Fire

House Gardener died out in the Targaryen War of Conquest three hundred years before the time of the War of the Five Kings. When Aegon the Conqueror invaded Westeros, King Mern IX joined forces with King Loren I of the Rock to put an end to the invaders.The two armies came togeather amongst the wide open plains south of the river Blackwater, near where the Goldroad would one day run.

King Mern demanded, since he had brought half as many more men to the battle, he should have the honor of commanding the center of the combined Reach-Westerlands army, and he led the charge against Aegon's army alongside his kin. A major battle was then fought in which the forces of the two kings met the Targaryen army. The Targaryen host broke, but by then Aegon and his sisters had taken to the air on their dragons.

The dragons killed 4,000 men of the combined Lannister-Gardener army, among them King Mern alongside all of his sons, grandsons, brothers, cousins, and other kin.[11] Another thousand men perished from sword and spears and arrows. The battle become known afterward as the Field of Fire. One nephew of King Mern survived, but he died of his burns three days later. When he died, House Gardener died with him.

Legacy

Mern's High Steward, Harlen Tyrell, surrendered Highgarden to Aegon, pledging fealty. Aegon named Harlen Lord of Highgarden and given dominion over the Reach in exchange for his submission to the Iron Throne.[12] Many of the noble houses from the Reach can trace their descent back to Garth Greenhand, a fact that is often used to boast of a better claim than the Tyrells as the rightful rulers of the Reach (the Tyrells are descendants of the Gardeners only through the female line). Among the houses with Garth Greenhand as an ancestor are the Florents, the Rowans, the Oakhearts, and many others. [13]

Golden currency from the time of the Gardeners is still in use, albeit rare.[14][15] The coins are named Hands, each worth roughly half a Gold Dragon,[15] and feature the Hand sigil of House Gardener on one side and the likeness of the current king on the other side. They are known to have been made with Garth XII's effigy.[14]

Historical Members

No precise lineage of House Gardner is known. Beginning with the mythical first king Garth the Gardener, the Gardeners ruled as Kings of the Reach until the last Gardener King Mern IX rode out to meet Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters upon the Field of Fire.

References and Notes