Kingsguard

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Unemblazoned white shield of the Kingsguard

The Kingsguard, also known poetically as the White Swords or White Cloaks, 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.[1]

Sigil of the Kingsguard

Contents

History

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.[2] 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.[3]

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 has continuously existed since the Conquest. 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 the Dragonknight and Lewyn Martell continued to use the style of "prince", while Lord Commanders Criston Cole and Ryam Redwyne have also acted as Hand of the King.

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 Ser Barristan, becoming the first member not to have been a sworn knight.

Appointments

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. [4][5]

The Lord Commander is always chosen by the king, with seniority and ability only playing parts in the decision.[6]

Equipment

The Kingsguard wear intricate suits of white enameled scales, their fastenings for breastplate and other pieces made of silver. [7][3] They alone bear the right to carry a pure white unemblazoned shield.[8]

Historical Members

Lord Commanders

Members

Under Viserys I

Viserys's seven split after his death, during the Dance of the Dragons.

Under Aerys II just prior to Robert's Rebellion

Recent Members

Under Robert I

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

It should be noted that after the War, King Robert was left in the position of having to fill not one but 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.” [13]
Varys, on King Robert's Kingsguard

Under Joffrey I

Kingsguard Under Joffrey I

The Kingsguard entered an even more controversial time after the death of King Robert. His heir, King Joffrey, dismissed Lord Commander Selmy, something never before done in the history of the Kingsguard. This time period also saw the appointment of an unanointed 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.

Under Tommen I

Ser Jaime Lannister, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, returns from imprisonment in the Riverlands after the death of King Joffrey Baratheon. He realizes the falling standard of the Kingsguard and views most of his brothers with scorn and disgust for what was once the most honourable form of knighthood, but realizes that he is stuck with them. Thus he attempts to foster Loras Tyrell, recognizing him as reckless and arrogant, yet not without merit. However, Jaime is sent back to the Riverlands to end the siege at Riverrun, and Loras is sent to fight in the Siege of Dragonstone, where the latter is nearly killed.

Kingsguard of Aegon VI

Upon landing in Westeros with the Golden Company Aegon named his friend Rolly the first of his new Kingsguard[14]. 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.

See also

Quotes

The Kingsguard does not flee.[15]

– 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.[16]

Bran Stark's reflections on the Kingsguard


Our knees do not bend easily.[15]
– Ser Arthur Dayne, regarding the Kingsguard


Once a man puts on that cloak, it changes him.[17]
– 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.[18]

Eddard Stark to Bran Stark


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.[19]
Brienne of Tarth to Ser Jaime Lannister


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.[20]
– Ser Jaime Lannister's thoughts on the present Kingsguard

References and Notes

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Kingsguard. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Kingsguard. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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