Red Wedding

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Red Wedding
Lindsey Burcar Red Wedding II.png
The Freys celebrate © Lindsey Burcar
Conflict War of the Five Kings
Date 299 AC
Place the Twins, riverlands
Result Iron Throne victory
  • Robb Stark and most of his loyal soldiers killed
  • Roose Bolton declared the new Warden of the North
Combatants
House Stark House Frey
House Bolton
Commanders
King Robb Stark Lord Walder Frey
Lord Roose Bolton
Ser Walder Rivers
Strength
three thousand five hundred[1] thousands of Freys[2]
three thousand five hundred Boltons and Karstarks[2]
Casualties
see below
majority slaughtered
see below
fifty Freys in the camps[3]
Unknown Bolton casualties

The Red Wedding is a massacre at the wedding feast of Edmure Tully, Lord of Riverrun, and Roslin Frey at the Twins in 299 AC during the War of the Five Kings. The King in the North, Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn, and most of his three thousand five hundred soldiers are slaughtered. The event is orchestrated by its host, Lord Walder Frey, as revenge for Robb's breaking of a marriage pact he made with House Frey, and Walder's conspirator, Lord Roose Bolton. However, Walder would never have gone along with the massacre which violated all the sacred laws of hospitality without the promise of protection from Lord Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King to Joffrey I Baratheon.

Background

Jeyne Westerling nursing Robb Stark - by Lauren Cannon ©

During the War of the Five Kings, the Freys initially rise in rebellion against the Iron Throne, securing an invaluable strategic position for the northmen. The rebellion is contingent on Robb Stark's betrothal to one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters.[4] However, Lady Sybell Spicer and her brother, Ser Rolph, maneuver Sybell's daughter, Jeyne Westerling, into treating Robb's wounds after the storming of the Crag.[5] Informed of the alleged deaths of his brothers Bran and Rickon after the capture of Winterfell, Robb sleeps with Jeyne and then marries her, a slight that Walder is unlikely to overlook.[6] The Freys at Harrenhal with Lord Roose Bolton are outraged[7] and those at the Crag[6] and Riverrun[8] angrily return to the Twins. After learning of the broken pact, Walder secretly begins corresponding with Roose, who has wed Walder's granddaughter Walda, and Lord Tywin Lannister for terms to bring House Frey back as a supporter of the Iron Throne.

Separately, Robb's mother, Catelyn Stark, releases Tywin's son, Ser Jaime Lannister, from imprisonment at Riverrun, hoping Tyrion Lannister in King's Landing will exchange Jaime for Robb's sisters, Sansa and Arya.[8] En route, however, Vargo Hoat's Brave Companions chop off Jaime's sword hand and bring him to Roose Bolton at Harrenhal.[9] Disavowing the Brave Companions' actions,[10] Roose, whose son Ramsay was responsible for the sack of Winterfell,[11] does not return Jaime to Robb or Lord Edmure Tully, but instead sends Jaime back to his family in King's Landing. Before parting, Jaime and Roose agree to give the other's regards to Robb and Tywin.[12]

A ploy is developed in which Walder lures Robb to the Twins, under the pretense of an invite to another marriage pact, to allegedly forgive Robb's broken vow.[13] The marriage, between Robb's uncle Edmure and Walder's daughter Roslin, is an invitation which Robb cannot decline after already slighting his allies once, since he needs House Frey's assistance for his planned siege of Moat Cailin.[1] Robb leaves Jeyne at Riverrun with his great uncle, Ser Brynden Tully, while he journeys north with thirty-five hundred, mostly northmen with some rivermen in Edmure's retinue.[1]

After Robb and his army arrive at the western castle of the Twins, he apologizes to Walder for his slight and Catelyn Stark asks for bread and salt to secure guest right.[2] Robb, Catelyn, and Edmure are given chambers in the Water Tower between the two castles. Robb's men cross the roaring Green Fork to the eastern shore, where several thousand Freys are encamped amidst three great feast tents.[2] Freys use several wagons and carts as a perimeter wall for the eastern camp's three tents and numerous pavilions.[14] Roose Bolton brings five hundred horse and three thousand foot to the Twins, mostly men from the Dreadfort, as well as some Karstarks whose loyalty is in question after Robb's execution of Lord Rickard Karstark at Riverrun.[2]

Lord Walder forbids Robb from keeping Grey Wind within his castles, since the Lord of the Crossing considers the direwolf dangerous.[15] Separately, the outlaw Gregor Clegane brings Robb's missing sister, Arya, toward the Twins in hopes of a reward.[14]

Wedding Night

The deaths of Robb, Catelyn, and Jinglebell - by nejna ©

After Edmure weds Roslin, Lord Walder hosts a feast for the highborn in one of his castles, while a "bastard feast" for lesser ranks is held in the second castle.[15] Performed songs include "Alysanne", "Flowers of Spring", "Iron Lances", and "The Queen Took Off Her Sandal, the King Took Off His Crown". A drunken Greatjon Umber bellows "The Bear and the Maiden Fair".[15] Robb dances with Roslin, several other Freys, and Dacey Mormont. Several poor dishes are served, the most appetizing being pink lamb. Roose toasts Walder's grandsons, Big Walder and Little Walder, who are in the care of Roose's son, Ramsay Snow, after the sack of Winterfell.[11] As part of the bedding custom, Edmure and Roslin depart the hall in the company of many guests of the opposite gender.

By using sellswords and knights at the feast disguised as musicians, and getting Robb's men too drunk to fight, Lord Walder Frey is able to coordinate a massacre with little loss to his own men. While the unknowing Edmure beds Roslin,[16] the twin castles and the outlying camp are signalled when the band in Walder's hall begins playing "The Rains of Castamere".[15] Few of the northmen in the hall have a chance to react, and most are butchered on the spot by the musicians' crossbows or Frey knives. Ser Ryman Frey leads Frey men-at-arms with longaxes.

Mailed northmen in shaggy fur cloaks—Boltons and possibly Karstarks—join the Freys, and the betrayers kill many of Robb Stark's personal guard, including Smalljon Umber, Dacey Mormont, and Ser Wendel Manderly. Roose slays Robb, who was previously shot by arrows, with a thrust to the heart while stating that "Jaime Lannister sends his regards."[15] Catelyn uses a knife to saw the neck of Lord Walder's grandson, the fool Jinglebell, after which Ser Raymund Frey slits Catelyn's throat.[15]

While the Starks are being slaughtered in the hall, the unknowing Edmure impregnates Roslin in a bedchamber.[16] Some guests who had accompanied them, such as the Greatjon, Patrek Mallister, and Ser Marq Piper, are overwhelmed and taken captive.[17] Freys kill Grey Wind in the yard with crossbow quarrels, despite Ser Raynald Westerling's attempt to save the direwolf.[18]

Catelyn cuts Jinglebell's throat. © FFG

In the camp outside the eastern castle, the three specially-rigged feast tents collapse and are set aflame with fire arrows during the slaughter, having been oiled earlier.[19] While drunken northmen burn inside the tents, Bastard Walder Rivers leads armored Frey men-at-arms against Robb's men outside of the tents. Sandor defends Arya against three men, including Ser Garse Goodbrook and Ser Tytos Frey, and the Hound escapes with Arya after knocking the girl unconscious.[19]

Though no definitive count is known, most of Robb's men are killed or captured, while House Frey loses approximately fifty men in the camps.[3]

After the battle, the Freys hack and mutilate Robb's body and cut off his head along with that of Grey Wind. In a mockery of Robb's relationship with his direwolf, the Freys sew Grey Wind's head onto Robb's decapitated body and nail a crown atop the direwolf's head.[20] Robb's bronze and iron crown is kept by Ryman Frey.[21] Catelyn is thrown naked into the river in a mockery of House Tully funeral customs.[20] Frey soldiers ride along the Green Fork in search of stray Stark survivors.[22]

Aftermath

Red Wedding artistic depiction by FatherStone ©

The Red Wedding brings an end to the northern rebellion, with Roose Bolton being named the Warden of the North for his aid in it, and several great benefits befell House Frey, including the lordship of Riverrun. However, it also destroys what honor is left in the house, as they violated one of the oldest and most sacred traditions of old, the guest right. This leads to antipathy and disgust towards the house by most Westerosi, including their own allies. Additionally, though no other house has dreamed to repeat the breaking of the right, it has left a more lasting stain on the ancient guest right, with safety and security in a strange castle no longer being considered guaranteed.

The Iron Throne gains a number of valuable prisoners which help resolve hostilities around Westeros, and most river lords bend the knee.[23][24] With Edmure Tully captive, Ser Jaime Lannister is able to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the siege of Riverrun. Black Walder Frey threatens to hang Patrek Mallister outside his father's castle which results in Lord Jason's surrender at the siege of Seagard. Greatjon Umber and Ser Marq Piper are held as hostages to ensure their houses' loyalty; Hother Umber allies with Lord Bolton, and Lord Clement Piper is forced to help besiege Riverrun. Lord Jonos Bracken besieges Lord Tytos Blackwood at Raventree.[25] To the displeasure of the Freys, they are informed by Jaime that King Tommen I Baratheon requires that all prisoners taken during the Red Wedding be turned over to the Iron Throne.[18]

Since the massacre at the Twins, several of Lord Walder Frey's kin have been killed by the brotherhood without banners (under the leadership of Lady Stoneheart, the resurrected Catelyn Stark) or northmen such as Lord Wyman Manderly in retaliation. During the siege of Riverrun Jaime sees Robb's crown worn by Ryman's whore.[21] The crown ends up in the grasp of Lady Stoneheart[26] after Ryman's party is ambushed.[18]

Northmen resent the presence of Freys who traveled with Lord Bolton to Winterfell for the wedding of his son Ramsay, since many lost kin at the Red Wedding.[27]

Frey Version

Depiction of the Red Wedding by Conor Campbell ©

Ser Jared Frey tells Lord Wyman Manderly that, contrary to the true story, the Red Wedding was actually Robb Stark's work. According to the Frey fictionalization, Robb changed into a wolf-man beast before the eyes of the Freys and tore out the throat of Jinglebell, a harmless simpleton. Furthermore, he allegedly would have slain Lord Walder Frey if Ser Wendel Manderly had not put himself in the way. According to this version of the event, the other northmen also turned into wolves to join Robb's attack.[28]

Participants

Architects

Perpetrators

In the Main Hall

In the Camps

  • Ser Walder Rivers leads the attack against the northern host's camp.
  • Ser Garse Goodbrook participates in the attack against the northern host's camp.
  • Ser Tytos Frey participates in the attack against the northern host's camp.

Perpetrator Casualties

Known Victims

The King in the North - by Zippo514 ©

Known Captives

Absent

Rewards and Agreements

In order to secure their support for the betrayal of Robb Stark, Tywin Lannister grants not only pardons but also titles and betrothals to the Frey, Bolton, and Spicer conspirators.

Freys

Bolton

Spicers/Westerlings

Influences

George R. R. Martin has revealed that the inspiration for the Red Wedding came from two events from Scottish history, the Black Dinner of 1440[29][30] and the Massacre of Glencoe of 1692.[31]

Quotes

Was there ever a wedding less joyful?[15]
Catelyn Stark's thoughts


Your Grace, the septon has prayed his prayers, some words have been said, and Lord Edmure's wrapped my sweetling in a fish cloak, but they are not yet man and wife. A sword needs a sheath, heh, and a wedding needs a bedding.[15]
- Walder Frey to Robb Stark


In the midst of slaughter, the Lord of the Crossing sat on his carved oaken throne, watching greedily.[15]
Catelyn Stark's thoughts


Catelyn: On my honor as a Tully, on my honor as a Stark, I will trade your boy's life for Robb's. A son for a son.

Walder: A son for a son, heh. But that's a grandson ... and he never was much use.[15]

Catelyn Stark and Walder Frey


The camp had become a battlefield. No, a butcher's den.[19]
- Arya Stark's thoughts


Roslin caught a fine fat trout. Her brothers gave her a pair of wolf pelts for her wedding.[32]
- Walder Frey's message to Tywin Lannister


Tywin: Explain to me why it is more noble to kill ten thousand men in battle than a dozen at dinner. The price was cheap by any measure. The crown shall grant Riverrun to Ser Emmon Frey once the Blackfish yields. Lancel and Daven must marry Frey girls, Joy is to wed one of Lord Walder's natural sons when she's old enough, and Roose Bolton becomes Warden of the North and takes home Arya Stark.

Tyrion: Arya Stark? And Bolton? I might have known Frey would not have the stomach to act alone.[32][32]

Tyrion Lannister and Tywin Lannister


Merrett: He shamed us, the whole realm was laughing, we had to cleanse the stain on our honor.

Lem: Maybe so. What do a bunch o' bloody peasants know about a lord's honor? We know some about murder, though.
Merrett: Not murder. It was vengeance, we had a right to our vengeance. It was war.[3]

Merrett Frey and Lem


The Red Wedding was my father's work, and Ryman's and Lord Bolton's. Lothar rigged the tents to collapse and put the crossbowmen in the gallery with the musicians, Bastard Walder led the attack on the camps ...[3]
Merrett Frey to Lem


Jared: The Red Wedding was the Young Wolf's work. He changed into a beast before our eyes and tore out the throat of my cousin Jinglebell, a harmless simpleton. He would have slain my lord father too, if Ser Wendel had not put himself in the way.

Davos: Is it your claim that Robb Stark killed Wendel Manderly?
Jared: And many more. Mine own son Tytos was amongst them, and my daughter's husband. When Stark changed into a wolf, his northmen did the same. The mark of the beast was on them all. Wargs birth other wargs with a bite, it is well-known. It was all my brothers and I could do to put them down before they slew us all.
Davos: Ser, may I have your name?
Jared: Ser Jared, of House Frey.
Davos: Jared of House Frey, I name you liar.[28]

Jared Frey and Davos Seaworth


They speak of wargs and skinchangers and assert that it was Robb Stark who slew my Wendel. The arrogance of it! They do not expect the north to believe their lies, not truly, but they think we must pretend to believe or die. Roose Bolton lies about his part in the Red Wedding, and his bastard lies about the fall of Winterfell. And yet so long as they held Wylis I had no choice but to eat all this excrement and praise the taste.[33]
Wyman Manderly to Davos Seaworth


Barbrey: The north remembers, Frey.

Aenys: Stark dishonored us. That is what you northmen had best remember.[27]

- Barbrey Dustin and Aenys Frey


Robb who had been more a brother to Theon than any son born of Balon Greyjoy's loins. Murdered at the Red Wedding, butchered by the Freys. I should have been with him. Where was I? I should have died with him.[34]
Theon Greyjoy's thoughts


Some of it can be difficult to do. I mean the Red Wedding was the hardest thing I ever wrote. I wrote the entire book, I skipped over the Red Wedding and wrote all the way to the end, and then I came back and did the Red Wedding, because it was just emotionally difficult to do that. But you know, hopefully, if it's hard to write, it'll be hard to read, too. It’ll affect the reader emotionally. I mean if the reader is just reading the book and terrible things happen, and they just put it aside and say, “What’s for dinner,” you’ve kind of failed. Your characters haven't achieved any reality here. If sad things happen in the book, the readers should be sad about them. And that does involve a certain amount of emotional vulnerability on the part of the writer.[35]
George R. R. Martin

See also

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 49, Catelyn VI.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 A Storm of Swords, Epilogue.
  4. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
  5. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Sybell Spicer.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn II.
  7. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya X.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  9. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime IV.
  10. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
  11. 11.0 11.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 66, Theon VI.
  12. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
  13. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 35, Catelyn IV.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 50, Arya X.
  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 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51, Catelyn VII.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  17. A Feast for Crows, Appendix.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 52, Arya XI.
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 58, Tyrion VII.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 38, Jaime VI.
  22. 22.0 22.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 65, Arya XII.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
  24. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
  25. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
  26. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 42, Brienne VIII.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 27.7 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 19, Davos III.
  29. So Spake Martin: Historical Influences, June 20, 2001
  30. So Spake Martin: Archon Meeting (October 5-7), October 05, 2001.
  31. The Week: The real-life events that inspired Game of Thrones' Red Wedding, June 5, 2013
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  33. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29, Davos IV.
  34. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 51, Theon I.
  35. LoneStarCon 3: The George R. R. Martin Interview

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External Links

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