Otto Hightower, art by Enife ©.
Hand of the King
|Allegiance|| House Hightower|
|Died||In 130 AC, at King's Landing|
|Book(s)|| The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)|
The Rogue Prince (mentioned)
The Princess and the Queen (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (mentioned)
Ser Otto Hightower was a knight of House Hightower who served as Hand of the King to three kings, although two of the kings removed him from office at various times. He was the younger brother of Lord Hightower, and the uncle of Lord Ormund Hightower. His children included Alicent Hightower, the second queen of King Viserys I Targaryen, and Ser Gwayne Hightower, second in command of the gold cloaks.
Considered a man of great learning in his time, Otto was haughty, blunt, and domineering.
Ser Otto was famous for his knowledge. For this ability, he was named Hand of the King. He is now a warning to future Hands that knowledge is not everything. He served as Hand of the King under Jaehaerys I, Viserys I, and Aegon II Targaryen, but was not Hand continuously.
Otto first served as Hand after the death of Jaehaerys's Hand and son, Prince Baelon Targaryen. Jaehaerys was devastated by the death of his son and loss of his beloved wife earlier, becoming grief stricken, and with his health failing he became bedridden. Otto effectively ruled the kingdom as Hand in the final two years of Jaehaerys's reign while his daughter Alicent Hightower nursed the ailing king.
Otto continued as Hand to Jaehaerys's successor, Viserys I Targaryen. He was father to Viserys's second wife, Queen Alicent. In 109 AC, Otto was removed as Hand for hounding Viserys to declare Alicent's sons the heirs to the Iron Throne instead of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. Having no place at court anymore, Ser Otto returned to Oldtown. A "queen's party", known as the greens, a group of powerful lords who were friends with Queen Alicent, remained, who supported the rights of Alicent's sons.
In 120 AC, Otto returned as Hand after Lord Lyonel Strong died. When Viserys died in 129 AC, Otto played a crucial role in crowning his eldest grandson as King Aegon II in defiance of the last will of Viserys I, which specified Rhaenyra as the successor. This defiance precipitated the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.
The Dance of the Dragons
- Main article: Dance of the Dragons
The opposing faction, the blacks, included the battle-tested Prince Daemon Targaryen, who, in the course of his pre-war adventures, had made many foes. Ser Otto had been amongst the first of these. He reached out to other enemies of the prince, the Kingdom of the Three Daughters, as allies. They were crucial in breaking the Velaryon blockade in the battle in the Gullet.
Aegon II, however, perceived Otto's diplomacy as slothful at a time when Prince Daemon had captured Harrenhal and many houses had declared for the blacks. This led to his replacement as Hand by Ser Criston Cole, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, despite the pleading of Ser Otto's daughter (and Aegon's mother), Queen Alicent Hightower. It was only after his dismissal that his efforts bore fruit.
References in the books
A Storm of Swords
On Dragonstone Davos Seaworth, who is now King Stannis Baratheon's Hand, thinks that he has risen to high due to his humble origins. Davos tells Maester Pylos that a King's Hand should be a highborn lord, someone wise and learned, a battle commander or a great knight. Maester Pylos reminds Davos Seaworth that Ser Otto Hightower was renowned for his learning but failed as Hand.