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Grand Maester Pycelle.jpg

Title Grand Maester
Allegiance Maesters of the Citadel
House Targaryen
House Baratheon
House Lannister
Born In 216 AC[1]
Died In 300 AC, at the Red Keep, King's Landing
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (appears)
A Clash of Kings (appears)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (appears)
A Dance with Dragons (appears)

Played by Julian Glover
TV series Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5

Pycelle is a Grand Maester of the Citadel[2] who has served in King's Landing and on the small council for over forty years. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones, he is played by Julian Glover.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Pycelle

Pycelle has only sparse hair that runs around his bald, spotted head.[3][4] His maester's chain is two dozen heavy chains wound together that stretches from neck to breast.[3] He has a long, snowy beard that runs down to his chest.[4] Instead of the grey robes worn by most maesters, Pycelle wears a red velvet robe with an ermine collar and golden fastenings.[5]

Pycelle bends the vows of his order to suit his needs, indulging the needs of the flesh and dabbling in poisons and politics with a skill few maesters dare approach.


Pycelle forged his maester's chain during the reign of King Maekar I Targaryen. He has been the Grand Maester of the Seven Kingdoms for forty years. Aegon V Targaryen was the first king Pycelle served.[6]

When Lord Tywin resigned his position as Hand of the King and left court, the new focus of Aerys' mistrust became his own son and heir Prince Rhaegar, who had become wary of his father's behavior.[7] At court their was growing tension between the factions loyal to the king and those loyal to his heir Prince Rhaegar.[8]

It fell to Pycelle and the new Hand of the King, Lord Owen Merryweather the unenviable task of trying to keep the peace between the factions, Pycelle even dispatched a letter to the Citadel writing that tensions and division at court strongly resembled those before the Dance of the Dragons, Pycelle was fearful of a civil war between those loyal to the king and those who supported Rhaegar would break out unless some accord could be reached that would satisfy both factions.[8]

Despite his oath to serve the realm, Pycelle has more loyalty to House Lannister.[6] He convinced King Aerys II Targaryen to open his gates to his former Hand of the King, Lord Tywin Lannister, in the waning days of Robert's Rebellion, in the hope that Tywin would take the throne. This led to the Sack of King's Landing.[9][10] The new king, Robert I Baratheon, pardoned Pycelle and allowed him to continue on the small council.[11] Pycelle has generally promoted the interests of House Lannister on the council for years.[9][12]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Pycelle - by Tiziano Baracchi ©

Lysa Arryn reports to her sister Catelyn Stark that Pycelle was helpless in saving the life of Lord Jon Arryn.[13] Pycelle attends Lord Eddard Stark in the first meeting of the small council upon his arrival from Winterfell to take up the role of Hand of the King. When Eddard makes inquiries about the death of the previous Hand, Lord Jon Arryn, Pycelle states that, from his experience, Jon's illness did not seem suspicious. When confronted with Lady Lysa Arryn's accusations that poison was the culprit, he points the finger of suspicion on Varys.[6]

After Eddard is injured in a street fight with Ser Jaime Lannister, Pycelle tasks himself with maintaining Eddard's healing.[11] When it is discovered Ser Gregor Clegane had led raids into the riverlands, burning several villages, Pycelle tries to delay any action taken against Lord Tywin Lannister. Eddard becomes more and more convinced that Pycelle is the creature of Queen Cersei Lannister.[14]

Pycelle tends to King Robert I Baratheon's wounds after he is injured by a boar in the kingswood, and he reports to Eddard upon Robert's death.[15] He is present when Eddard presents Robert's will and is arrested at court.[16] Under Cersei's direction, Pycelle visits the grief-stricken Sansa Stark after her father Eddard's death and examines her intrusively before giving her a potion to calm her.

A Clash of Kings

Grand Maester Pycelle – by Brittmartin ©

Tyrion Lannister, serving as Hand, is not sure whom he can trust, so he tells different secrets to Varys, Petyr Baelish, and Pycelle, tasking the Grand Maester with sending letters to Prince Doran Martell.[17] Pycelle does send the letters, but reads them first. He shares the information with Cersei, who proceeds to confront Tyrion, inadvertently letting Tyrion realise he can trust Varys and Littlefinger. In the time it takes Pycelle to read the letter, Tyrion has time to help himself to a mild poison from the maester's cabinet, which he uses later on Cersei. Pycelle is present when Tyrion gives his terms for peace with the north.

At midnight, Tyrion takes Shagga and Timett and confronts Pycelle in his chambers, where he is found naked in bed with a servant girl. With help from Shagga, Tyrion intimidates Pycelle, who wets the bed in fear of the clansmen. While Shagga shaves off Pycelle's signature white beard with his axe, Tyrion learns Pycelle has betrayed the realm over and over in service to House Lannister. He allowed Jon Arryn to die when he could have easily saved him, convinced Aerys II Targaryen to open the gates to Tywin's forces during Robert's Rebellion, and would have finished Robert off himself if the wounds from the boar had not been so fatal.[9]

Pycelle justifies Jon's death, since he was close to the truth about Cersei's incest with her brother, Ser Jaime, and King Joffrey I Baratheon's parentage. He admits Maester Colemon was treating Lord Arryn properly but the queen needed him dead. Pycelle justifies Robert's death, since his brother Renly had been plotting with the Tyrells to kill Cersei and wed Margaery Tyrell to Robert. Tyrion has Pycelle thrown in one of the black cells.[9]

A Storm of Swords

Pycelle is restored to his position by Tywin Lannister after he learns the Citadel is planning on naming Gormon Tyrell as Pycelle's replacement.[18]

Pycelle, with his beard shaved off and weakened from his time in the black cells, appears to be a broken man. He falls asleep during the wedding of King Joffrey I Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell and is unable to take any action to prevent Joffrey's death at the banquet from poison, something that sours Queen Cersei's opinion of him. During the trial of Tyrion Lannister for Joffrey's murder, Pycelle is called as a witness for the prosecution to discuss poisons and how Tyrion might have killed the King.[19]

Pycelle continues his service to the newly-crowned King Tommen I Baratheon. He is ordered by Tywin to heal Ser Gregor Clegane, who was poisoned by Oberyn Martell in the trial by combat and is slowly dying in agony. Tywin plans on having Gregor executed to appease House Martell but needs it to be seen to be the King's Justice who does the deed, not poison. Pycelle is unsuccessful and Tywin refuses his suggestion of confining the other Dornishmen till they reveal what poison Oberyn used as Tywin cannot risk further offending Dorne. Tywin fears they might join Stannis Baratheon which would prolong the war for years.[20]

A Feast for Crows

Following Joffrey's death, the relationship between Pycelle and Queen Regent Cersei Lannister becomes more strained. He opposes the naming of Qyburn, a disgraced maester, to the small council. Cersei blames him for the deplorable state of Lord Tywin Lannister's corpse.[21] Taena of Myr casts suspicion on Pycelle when she reports to Cersei that he is found often in the company of Queen Margaery Tyrell.[22] Pycelle objects to many of Cersei's edicts, such as her refusing to honour the debts the crown owes the Iron Bank of Braavos and her decision to allow the Faith of the Seven to re-institute the Faith Militant. After pressure from Cersei, Pycelle admits publicly to giving Margaery moon tea, a contraceptive. This discovery is crucial in Cersei's efforts to frame Margaery for adultery and treason, delivering her to the captivity of the High Septon.[23]

Cersei considers having him replaced, and Pycelle's future at court looks uncertain. However, when Cersei is arrested by the Faith, Pycelle successfully seizes control of the council, as Aurane Waters and Orton Merryweather have abandoned the capital. He removes Osfryd Kettleblack as commander of the gold cloaks so Osfyrd will not be able to use the Watch to try and free Cersei and his brother Osney, both of whom are prisoners of the Faith. He also raises Humfrey Waters of the Dragon Gate to command the Watch. Qyburn states to Cersei that the realm is effectively being ruled by Pycelle and Harys Swyft. Pycelle dispatches a message to Ser Kevan Lannister offering him the regency.

A Dance with Dragons

Pycelle continues his duty as Grand Maester but is wary of Lord Mace Tyrell, who is wroth with Pycelle at revealing Maergary's requests for moon tea. He requests guards from Ser Kevan Lannister out of fear for his personal safety. Pycelle's fears prove justified, as he is killed in his chambers, not by Tyrell men but by Lord Varys, who removes both him and Kevan to ensure they cannot repair the damage Cersei had done to the kingdom and the Lannister-Tyrell alliance.[24]

Pycelle served six kings during his time as Grand Maester: Aegon V, Jaehaerys II, Aerys II, Robert I, Joffrey I and Tommen I.

Quotes by Pycelle

Treason is a noxious weed. It must be torn up, root and stem and seed, lest new traitors sprout from every roadside.[5]
- Pycelle to the court of Joffrey I Baratheon

Pycelle: I was your lord father's man, and a friend to you in the matter of Lord Arryn. I could not survive the dungeons, not again ...

Cersei: Why does Margaery send for you?
Pycelle': Moon tea. Moon tea, for ....
Cersei: I know what moon tea is for. Very well. Get off those saggy knees and try to remember what it was to be a man.[12]

- Pycelle and Cersei Lannister

Quotes about Pycelle

Pycelle is a toad. But better a Lannister toad then a Tyrell toad, no? [18]
- Tyrion Lannister to Varys

References and Notes

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