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Unemblazoned white shield of the Kingsguard
Sigil of the Kingsguard

The Kingsguard, also known poetically as the White Swords[1] or white cloaks,[2] are the royal bodyguards of the Iron Throne. Supposedly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms, they are sworn to protect their king and the royal family with their own lives, to obey his commands, and to keep his secrets. They are sworn for life and are forbidden from owning land, taking a wife, or fathering children,[3] although they can have non-hereditary commands, such as being warden[4] or Hand of the King.[2]

Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen in 129 AC to 130 AC and Queen Daenerys Targaryen since 300 AC have operated with a Queensguard, instead of a Kingsguard.


The Kingsguard was founded by Aegon the Conqueror of House Targaryen as an elite bodyguard for those of royal blood. Historically composed of seven knights sworn to a lifetime of service, members are to serve unto death despite age or any physical or mental ailments, with an invalid member's duties being taken up by his sworn brothers.[5] During his time as a member of the Kingsguard, a member is not allowed to hold lands, sire children, marry, or have any worldly allegiance except to his monarch. Some of the greatest warriors, battle commanders, swordsmen, and famous historical figures in the history of Westeros have served in the Kingsguard, including members of House Targaryen itself. All members of the Kingsguard must be sworn knights.[6]

The first Kingsguard was created at the suggestion of Visenya Targaryen, after a Dornish assassination attempt on Aegon in the streets of King's Landing. She self-consciously modeled the Kingsguard vows of holding no lands or title on the ancient vows of the Night's Watch.[7]

The Kingsguard has continuously existed since the reign of Aegon I. Its uninterrupted history is recorded in the White Book, a volume maintained by the head of the Kingsguard, known as the Lord Commander, and stored in the Round Room of the White Sword Tower, a four-story tower built into one of the seaward walls of the Red Keep of King's Landing. In the White Book, officially known as The Book of Brothers, each member of the Kingsguard is given one page on which his personal history and a record of his deeds are written. Because of its status as the royal bodyguard and the many remarkable figures who have been members, the Kingsguard has been involved in many major historical events in Westeros.

Although the White Swords may not hold lands, certain titles may be retained or granted. Aemon Targaryen and Lewyn Martell continued to use the style of "prince", while Lord Commanders Ryam Redwyne and Criston Cole have also acted as Hand of the King. Ser Jaime Lannister for a time was also Warden of the East, and King Robert I Baratheon threatened to make him Hand as well (before he was Lord Commander). Finally, Eddard Stark speaks of Jaime being in line to inherit the title of Warden of the West.[4]

After Robert's Rebellion, Robert Baratheon, the new king, chose to continue the tradition of the Kingsguard. He went as far as to elevate a member of Aerys II's Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy, to the position of Lord Commander. Selmy held that position until dismissed in an unprecedented move by Robert's heir, Joffrey I. After Selmy's dismissal, the last of the remaining knights from Aerys II's Kingsguard, Joffrey's uncle Ser Jaime Lannister, was appointed Lord Commander. Sandor Clegane was chosen to replace the departed Barristan, becoming the first member not to have been a sworn knight.

Equipment and Duties

The Kingsguard wear all white cloaks, carry plain white shields and with some occasional exceptions wear little or no ornamentation or sigils on their white armor. This plain but striking attire lends credence to their role of being seen but not heard until their advice is asked. Discretion and wisdom are often as important skills as martial ability being as they are expected to be with their king or queen at all times, privy to all their secrets, plans, and every aspect of their personal lives.

The Kingsguard wear intricate suits of white enameled scales, their fastenings for breastplate and other pieces made of silver.[8][6] Jaime Lannister, standing vigil for his father, wears a long hauberk, its scales mother-of-pearl chased with gold.[9] They alone bear the right to carry a pure white unemblazoned shield.[1]

In order to protect the royal family night and day, the seven-man Kingsguard must rely to some degree on others. Prince Joffrey has his own sworn shield, Sandor Clegane, other knights are trusted with the king's security when the entire Kingsguard meets in White Sword Tower, and the queen may be guarded by soldiers from her own household (as Queen Cersei has Vylarr and his red cloaks).

One of the Kingsguard always stands guard outside the council chambers when the small council is in session, and one is usually posted at the end of the bridge into Maegor's Holdfast.[10][11]


The rite for making a new member of the White Swords can vary. In common there seems to be the fact that it is a solemn and formal event, in which the knight kneels as he makes his vows before the king, and he receives the white cloak of the Kingsguard from the Hand of the King or the Lord Commander himself.[12][13] The Lord Commander is always chosen by the king, with seniority and ability only playing parts in the decision.[14] Also the Lord Commander is generally chosen from the existing pool of the Kingsguard.

Historical Members

Lord Commanders

Main article: Lord Commander of the Kingsguard

Unknown Reign

Aegon I Targaryen (10 AC-37 AC)

Two members of Aegon's Kingsguard died defending him.[18]

Aenys I Targaryen (37 AC-42 AC)

Maegor I Targaryen (42 AC-48 AC)

Two members of Maegor's Kingsguard abandoned him when Prince Jaehaerys made his claim in 48 AC.[19]

Jaehaerys I Targaryen (48 AC-103 AC)

  • Ser Ryam Redwyne, Lord Commander, thought to be one of the best knights and worst King's Hand that Westeros had ever seen.[20]
  • Ser Clement Crabb.[16][21]
  • Ser Lucamore Strong, he was called Lucamore the Lusty after it became known he secretly took three wives and fathered numerous children. For this, he was gelded by the rest of the Kingsguard and sent to the Wall by Jaehaerys I.[15]

Viserys I Targaryen (103 AC-129 AC)

Dance of the Dragons (129 AC-131 AC)

The reign of King Aegon II covered the war of succession known as the Dance of the Dragons. During this war, both the eldest living son of late King Viserys I, Prince Aegon, and the eldest living child of King Viserys I, the child he had proclaimed his heir, Princess Rhaenyra, were crowned.

Aegon II Targaryen

Rhaenyra Targaryen

Main: Queensguard

Aegon III Targaryen (131 AC-157 AC)

Daeron I Targaryen (157 AC-161 AC)

Three Kingsguard knights died trying to protect King Daeron I in Dorne, and one threw down his sword and yielded, in 161 AC.[27] It is currently unknown if Ser Olyvar was one of the three to die in 161 AC, or whether he died earlier during Daeron's reign.

Baelor I Targaryen (161 AC-171 AC)

Viserys II Targaryen (171 AC-172 AC)

Aegon IV Targaryen (172 AC-184 AC)

Daeron II Targaryen (184 AC-209 AC)

Aerys I Targaryen (209 AC-221 AC)

Aegon V Targaryen (233 AC-259 AC)

Jaehaerys II Targaryen (259 AC-262 AC)

Aerys II Targaryen (262 AC-283 AC)

Recent Members

Robert I Baratheon (283 AC-298 AC)

Left to right inorder: Jaime Lannister, Preston Greenfield, Mandon Moore, Barristan Selmy, Meryn Trant, Boros Blount and Arys Oakheart

After Robert's Rebellion, Robert I was left in the position of having to fill five vacancies in the Kingsguard. This, along with the blatantly political appointments made by his wife, Queen Cersei Lannister, lead many to regard the present as a low point in the Kingsguard's history. The continued inclusion of Jaime Lannister despite his betrayal of Aerys II was poorly received by many outside of the Lannister inner circle.

A paper shield. [1]
Varys, on King Robert's Kingsguard

Of these seven, only Ser Barristan Selmy is made of the true steel.[1]
- Varys, on King Robert's Kingsguard

Joffrey I Baratheon (298 AC-300 AC)

Kingsguard Under Joffrey I

The Kingsguard entered an even more controversial time after the death of King Robert I Baratheon. His heir, Joffrey, dismissed Lord Commander Barristan Selmy, something never before done in the history of the Kingsguard. This time period also saw the appointment of unanointed warrior and brutal House Lannister retainer, Sandor Clegane. These changes in the Kingsguard including the appointment of Lannister loyalists and Loras Tyrell of House Tyrell, Lannister allies in the War of the Five Kings, can be viewed as attempts to make political appointments in order to solidify Lannister power on the throne.

Tommen I Baratheon (300 AC)

Claimants to the Iron Throne

Aegon VI (300 AC)

Upon landing in Westeros with the Golden Company, Aegon named his friend Rolly Duckfield the first of his new Kingsguard.[34] Lord Jon Connington did not approve of the choice and asked Aegon to leave the other six slots open for knights of renown and sons of great lords which would add luster to their cause.

  • Lord Commander {open}
  • Ser Rolly Duckfield.
  • {open}
  • {open}
  • {open}
  • {open}
  • {open}


The Kingsguard does not flee.[35]

– Ser Gerold Hightower, The White Bull

Old Nan said they were the finest swords in all the realm. There were only seven of them, and they wore white armor and had no wives or children, but lived only to serve the king. Bran knew all their stories. Their names were like music to him.[17]

Bran Stark's reflections on the Kingsguard

Our knees do not bend easily.[35]
– Ser Arthur Dayne, regarding the Kingsguard

Once a man puts on that cloak, it changes him.[36]
– Ser Jaime Lannister

Bran: Are they truly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms?

Ned: No longer. But once they were a marvel, a shining lesson to the world.[37]

Eddard Stark to Bran Stark

The days when men like Ryam Redwyne and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight wore the white cloak are gone to dust and song.[1]
- Varys to Eddard Stark regarding Robert I Baratheon's Kingsguard.

It is a rare and precious gift to be a knight, and even more so a knight of the Kingsguard. It is a gift given to few, a gift you scorned and sullied.[38]
Brienne of Tarth to Ser Jaime Lannister

Osmund has become especially unreliable since he joined the Kingsguard. That white cloak does things to a man, I find. Even a man like him.[39]
Petyr Baelish

He wondered what Ser Arthur Dayne would have to say of this lot. "How is it that the Kingsguard have fallen so low," most like. "It was my doing", I would have to answer. "I opened the door, and did nothing when the vermin began to crawl inside." [32]
– Ser Jaime Lannister's thoughts on the present Kingsguard

See also

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 The Princess and the Queen.
  3. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  4. 4.0 4.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  5. So Spake Martin: The Kingsguard (May 22, 1999)
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  7. The World of Ice and Fire.
  8. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
  9. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
  11. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  12. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
  13. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
  14. So Spake Martin: Archon Meeting (October 5, 2001)
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 15.12 15.13 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8, Bran II.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 18.7 The World of Ice and Fire, Aegon I.
  19. The World of Ice and Fire, Maegor I.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 The Rogue Prince.
  21. The World of Ice and Fire, Jaehaerys I.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 The World of Ice and Fire, Aegon III.
  23. The World of Ice and Fire, The nine mistresses of Aegon IV, the Unworthy.
  24. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 12, Tyrion II.
  25. Born in 136 AC, Aemon was 17 years old when he took his vows, shortly after the wedding of Aegon and Naerys in 153 AC
  26. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  27. The World of Ice and Fire, Daeron I.
  28. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Aegon IV Targaryen.
  29. The Sworn Sword.
  30. The World of Ice and Fire, House Arryn.
  31. 31.0 31.1 The Hedge Knight.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  33. The World of Ice and Fire, Jaehaerys II.
  34. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
  35. 35.0 35.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
  36. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 12, Cersei III.
  37. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 21, Bran III.
  38. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
  39. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.

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