Kinslaying

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Aemond Targaryen killed his nephew Lucerys Velaryon during the Dance of the Dragons. Art from the Game of Thrones Season 5 Blu-ray, supplemental content.

Kinslaying is a great taboo in Westeros. Any individual who kills a member of their own family is dubbed a kinslayer, and believed to be cursed forever.[1] Many nobles and smallfolk believe this, and thus those who slay their own blood are usually looked down upon or shunned. Across Westeros, in the religions of the old gods, the Faith of the Seven, and even of the Drowned God, men state that "no man is so accursed as the kinslayer" and that "the kinslayer is accursed in the eyes of gods and men".[1][2][3][4]

The stigma and notoriety of kinslaying can go both ways. For example, Victarion Greyjoy hates his brother Euron and thinks about killing him, but the stigma and curse associated with kinslaying is what restrains him from doing so.[2][5] However, when Tristifer Botley, who believes Aeron Greyjoy was killed by his brother Euron, says Euron is afraid of being seen as a kinslayer, Asha Greyjoy responds that if Euron heard this, he would murder one of his sons to prove them wrong.[6]

According to George R.R. Martin:

There are degrees in kinslaying, as in anything else. Fighting a battle in which a brother dies might be frowned upon, but killing him with your own hand would be considered far worse.[7]

Kinslayers and people suspected of kinslaying

  • Euron Greyjoy: is suspected of being involved in the death of his older brother Balon.[2] Because of the disappearence of his younger brother Aeron after the Kingsmoot, some Ironborn think that he murdered him as well.[6] Euron confesses to Aeron who he had seized and captured that he did indeed kill Balon, though his was not the hand that did so, and two of his other brothers Harlon and Robin.[12]
  • Robb Stark: when preparing to execute Rickard Karstark, per Eddard Stark's custom that the man who passes the sentence should also swing the sword, Karstark calls Robb a kinslayer due to the blood ties between House Stark and House Karstark.[13] However, Rickard was stretching the concept of kinslaying in hopes of saving his head,[7] as House Karstark split from House Stark over a thousand years before, and Robb was only a distant cousin through his great-great-great grandmother Alys Karstark.[14]
  • Theon Greyjoy: named a kinslayer by some for his supposed murder of Bran and Rickon Stark; although they are not his blood kin, he was their father's ward and was raised with them.[15]

Historical kinslayers and people suspected of kinslaying

House ArrynJonos Arryn: was called Jonos the Kinslayer when he killed his own brother, Ronnel, and their family during the reign of Aenys.
House TargaryenQueen Visenya Targaryen: She was suspected of poisoning her nephew and stepson Aenys so her son Maegor could succeed.
House TargaryenKing Maegor I the Cruel: For slaying his nephew Aegon Targaryen and later having another nephew Viserys Targaryen tortured to death.
House StrongLord Larys Strong: Is suspected of beginning the fire at Harrenhal in which his father, Lord Lyonel Strong, and elder brother Ser Harwin Strong, died.
Mini aegonii.pngKing Aegon II: For feeding his half-sister Rhaenyra Targaryen to his dragon Sunfyre during the Dance of the Dragons.
House TargaryenAemond Targaryen: For killing his nephew Lucerys Velaryon during the Dance of the Dragons.
House TargaryenDaemon Targaryen: For killing his nephew Aemond Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons, and sending the assassins who murdered his great-nephew Jaehaerys Targaryen.
House TargaryenKing Viserys II: Was alleged to have poisoned his nephew Baelor I Targaryen, though many people think Baelor fasted himself to death.
House TargaryenKing Aegon IV the Unworthy: Was alleged to have poisoned his father Viserys II.[19]
32x32 Maekar Targaryen.pngKing Maekar I: Was called a kinslayer when he accidentally slew his own brother Baelor "Breakspear" Targaryen in a trial of seven.
32x32 Brynden Rivers.pngBrynden Rivers: Was called a kinslayer when he killed his half-brother Daemon Blackfyre and Daemon's sons Aegon Blackfyre and Aemon Blackfyre during the Battle of the Redgrass Field. Later Brynden executed another of Daemon's sons, Aenys Blackfyre.
House BlackfyreMaelys Blackfyre: Was called a kinslayer because he supposedly consumed his own twin in the womb. Later in life he killed his own cousin, Daemon.
32x32 Kingsguard.png Ser Erryk Cargyll: For slaying his twin brother Ser Arryk Cargyll during the Dance of the Dragons; each died by the other's sword.
32x32 Kingsguard.png Ser Arryk Cargyll: For slaying his twin brother Ser Erryk Cargyll during the Dance of the Dragons; each died by the other's sword.
House Stark Lord Stark (grandson of Brandon the Daughterless): Slew Bael the Bard, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, ignorant that he was his actual father.[20]
House BaratheonErich Durrandon: Known as Erich Kin-Killer when he slew his brother King Durran, who was possibly Durran the Young.
House LannisterGerold Lannister: He was suspected of murdering his older brother Tybolt Lannister and Tybolt's daughter Cerelle Lannister.

Quotes

Fratricide ... my lord, this is evil, unthinkable.[21]
– Maester Cressen, considers the thought of Stannis killing his younger brother, Renly


Old gods or new, it makes no matter, no man is so accursed as the kinslayer.[13]
Rickard Karstark


Jaime had not wanted to believe it. Kinslaying was worse than kingslaying, in the eyes of gods and men. He knew the boy was mine. I loved Tyrion. I was good to him. Well, but for that one time ... but the imp did not know the truth of that.[22]
Jaime Lannister's thoughts


The gods hate kinslayers, even when they kill unknowing.[20]
Ygritte


Kinslaying is dry work. It gives a man a thirst.[23]
Tyrion Lannister, to Illyrio Mopatis, on his drinking too much wine.


Kinslayer or no, I am a lion still.[23]
Tyrion Lannister, to Illyrio Mopatis


Tell me, my lord ... if the kinslayer is accursed, what is a father to do when one son slays another?[11]
Roose Bolton, to Theon Greyjoy


The gods hate kinslayers.[24]
Victarion Greyjoy, brooding on his brother.

See also

Customs, for additional information on customs and traditions of Westeros.

References and Notes

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