Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion

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Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion
Reyne Tarbeck Rebellion.png
art by RobinF

Date 261 AC[1]
Location Westerlands, Castamere and Tarbeck Hall
Result Elimination of Houses Reyne and Tarbeck
Restoration of Lannister dominance over the westerlands
House Reyne of Castamere
House Tarbeck of Tarbeck Hall
House Lannister of Casterly Rock
Notable commanders
Lord Roger Reyne
Ser Reynard Reyne
Lady Ellyn Tarbeck
Lord Walderan Tarbeck
Ser Tywin Lannister
  • 500 Tarbeck household knights
  • 2,000 Reyne soldiers
~8,000 at Tarbeck, growing to ~16,000 at Castamere[2]
Complete elimination of the rebellious vassalsMinimal

The Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion was an uprising in the westerlands. Houses Reyne and Tarbeck rose against their Lannister overlords due to the perceived weakness of the Lord of Casterly Rock, Tytos Lannister.


There are many factors that led to the Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion, the weak and ineffective leadership of Lord Tytos being a key one. The early ambitions of Ellyn Reyne of Castamere was another reason for the escalation of the conflict due to her scheming and vindictiveness.

The Lady Ellyn was an ambitious and ruthless woman, who not only desired to marry into the rich Lannister family but also making herself Lady of the Rock. Her father, Robert Reyne, successfully arranged a betrothal of her to Tywald Lannister, the heir of Lord Gerold Lannister to Casterly Rock. However, both Ellyn's betrothed and father were slain during the Peake Uprising in 233 AC. Ellyn did not let her grief get in the way of her ambition and she managed to seduce the new heir, Gerold's second son Tion, into marrying her, despite the fact that Tion at that time was already arranged to marry a daughter of Lord Rowan. Lord Gerold, having witnessed how quickly Ellyn acted so soon after the death of both her father and her betrothed, deeply opposed this match, but the ailing lord was now a ghost of his former self due to grief, age and illness, and he eventually let Tion follow his heart.

Lady Ellyn was married to Tion Lannister. With Lord Gerold twice widowed and refusing to remarry, Ellyn became the Lady of Casterly Rock in all but name. Ellyn in her time at the court of Casterly Rock became a rival of Lady Jeyne Marbrand, the wife of Gerold's third son, Tytos Lannister. As her good-father retreated more into his books and bed chamber, Lady Ellyn held a splendid court, hosting tourneys and balls and filling the court with musicians, artists and mummers. She also used her new position to empower her House Reyne. Her brothers, Roger, who was known as the Red Lion of Castamere, and Reynard Reyne were ever at her side and Ellyn lavished them with offices, honors and lands. She did similarly with her cousins, uncles and other kin. Lord Gerold Lannister's aged and hunchbacked fool, Lord Toad, was heard to say,

Lady Ellyn must surely be a sorceress, for she made it rain inside the Rock all year.[1]

Ellyn saw her dream of becoming Lady of the Rock shatter once again when her husband perished fighting in the Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion. Instead of breaking Lord Gerold, the loss of another son roused him from his grief. Since no children had come from Ellyn and Tion's brief marriage, it meant that Gerold's third son, the weak-willed and unpromising Tytos was by all the laws the new heir. Gerold, intent on doing all he could to prepare his new heir to succeed him, once again took firm hold of the westerlands. The "Reign of the Reynes" was at an end, as her brothers departed the Rock along with many other of her kin.

Ellyn remained at the Rock, but her influence was fading fast, as her good-sister Jeyne Marbrand's was rising. The rivalry between the two increased exponentially and became according to the writings of Maester Beldon truly ugly.

Ellyn was then hastily wed to the widowed Lord Walderan Tarbeck, who was fifty five at the time. According to Maester Beldon, the rumor was that in 239 AC the widowed Ellyn tried to seduce the already-married Tytos Lannister so he would set aside his wife Jeyne for her. Tytos apparently was so intimidated by her that he failed to perform. Humiliated and in shame, he confessed to his wife. Jeyne forgave him but not her good-sister, thus she informed her good-father Lord Gerold. Gerold was furious and quickly arranged the match to rid Casterly Rock of Ellyn, much to the delight of Lady Jeyne. The rivalry between the two women increased and intensified throughout the years, in what Lord Toad called the War of the Wombs. Though Ellyn had failed to produce an heir for Tion she proved more fertile for Lord Walderran (who it should be noted had a number of older sons from his first two marriages) and over the years Ellyn gave her new husband two daughters and a son.[1]

When Tytos Lannister finally became Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West he was seen was weak willed and indecisive, having no stomach for war or conflict, he laughed at insults that would have sent his forebears shouting for their swords. Many saw this weakness and sought to take advantage for their own personal gain. Many borrowed from Casterly Rock and never bothered to repay the loans. When it was seen that Tytos was willing to extend such debts, or even forgive them, common merchants from Lannisport and Kayce soon began to attend the court in droves to beg for loans. The power of House Lannister waned and many other neighboring Houses grew in strength, with House Reyne amongst the forefront. The power of the Reynes grew vastly under Tytos's poor leadership, as did their close allies House Tarbeck. Lady Ellyn Tarbeck was not slow to take advantage of Tytos's willingness to part with large sums of gold. She borrowed heavily and used the money to restore the crumbling Tarbeck Hall, strengthening the curtain walls and furnishing its keep with a splendor to rival any castle in the west.

Throughout the westerlands it was said that the Lion of Lannister was no longer a beast to fear and many japed about toothless lions.[1]

According to Genna Lannister, her father Tytos agreed to marry her to Emmon Frey, the second son of Lord Walder Frey, just to please Walder. The betrothal was announced at a feast in 254 AC, with most of the lords of the west in attendance. Upon the announcement, Lord Roger Reyne left the hall in anger and Lady Ellyn Tarbeck laughed aloud. While the rest of Lord Tytos's vassals sat on their tongues, Tytos's eldest son, Tywin Lannister, spoke out against the wedding because he thought it an uneven match.[3] Tytos later sent Tywin to King's Landing to serve as a royal cupbearer at King Aegon V Targaryen's court. [1]

During the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Lord Tytos answered the call of his new king, Jaehaerys II Targaryen, and sent ten thousand westermen under the leadership of his young brother, Ser Jason Lannister (who would later perish in the war) to fight beside the forces of the Iron Throne in the Stepstones. Lord Tytos also sent his three eldest sons to fight in the conflict, while he remained at the court of Casterly Rock with his new mistress, a lowborn wet nurse who caught his eye.

Ser Tywin Lannister returned from the Stepstones with his brothers, Ser Kevan (newly knighted) and Tygett Lannister who while still a squire had distinguished himself well in the fighting. Battle hardened from the war, Tywin and his brothers knew how their House was regarded by others under the misrule of their sire and were determined to change that. Tywin took upon himself the task of restoring House Lannister's dominance. When the young Tywin declared to his father he was restoring House Lannister to its proper place, Lord Tytos protested feebly before returning to the comfort and embrace of his wet nurse mistress.[1]

Tywin began by demanding the repayment of the gold his father lent out, and those who could not repay immediately had to send a hostage to Casterly Rock until their debt was settled. He charged his brother Kevan with command of five hundred knights, who were all blooded and seasoned veterans from the War of the Ninepenny Kings, and had them rid the westerlands of robber knights and bandit outlaws. Some hastened to obey, Ser Harys Swyft was said to have stated,

The lion has awoken.[1]

Unable to pay the loan at the time, Ser Harys agreed to surrender his daughter Dorna into Ser Kevan's custody, elsewhere the collectors were met with sullen resistance and open defiance. Lord Roger Reyne reportedly laughed when he read Tywin's edicts and counseled his friends and vassals to do nothing.

Lord Walderran Tarbeck choose a different course. He rode to Casterly Rock to confront Lord Tytos, confident he could easily cow Tytos to rescind his son's edicts. Lord Tytos was not present when Lord Tarbeck arrived at court, but the young Tywin was and ordered Lord Walderran imprisoned for disloyalty.

In return, Lady Ellyn Tarbeck seized three Lannisters—two Lannisters of Lannisport, as well as Stafford Lannister, whose sister Joanna was betrothed to young Tywin—and threatened them harm unless her lord and husband was returned. This awoke Lord Tytos, who ignored Tywin's suggestion that Lord Walderran should be sent back to his wife in three pieces, one for every Lannister taken. Tytos returned Walderran unharmed and even forgave the Tarbeck debt to House Lannister.[4][1]

Sack of Tarbeck Hall

Less then a year later, the Tarbecks rebelled again, together with House Reyne. Tywin Lannister was determined to bring the over mighty and belligerent vassals to heel. Late in 261 AC he sent raven messages to both Tarbeck Hall and Castamere demanding that they present themselves at Casterly Rock to answer for their crimes. Both Houses refused (as Tywin knew they would) and choose defiance, rising in revolt and renouncing their fealty to House Lannister.

Tywin did not seek the leave of his lord father, Tytos Lannister, nor informed him of his intent, but rode forth himself. Tywin took command of the Lannister forces and immediately marched against the upstart vassals, taking the army he had already gathered prior to sending the raven messages, consisting of 3,500 soldiers (three thousand men-at-arms and crossbowmen, five hundred knights). While marching, the host was joined by troops from House Marbrand and House Prester, as well as a dozen lesser lords.[5]

House Tarbeck was the first to feel his wrath, the Lannister host descending so quickly that the Tarbecks had no time to properly gather their supporters. Lord Walderan Tarbeck rode forth to met the Lannister host with what little force he had in his garrison. A short bloody battle ensued in which the Tarbecks were butchered. Tywin ordered all Tarbecks and men wearing their badge decapitated. The Lannister host marched on Tarbeck Hall, with the heads of Lord Walderan and his kin impaled on spears.

Lady Ellyn Tarbeck closed the gates of Tarbeck Hall and sent ravens to Castamere appealing for aid, trusted in her walls to defend her until her brother, Lord Roger Reyne, and his army arrived to lift the siege. Tywin, though, had siege engines prepared in less than a day. A lucky shot from a stone thrower sent a boulder over the walls and on to Tarbeck Hall's aged keep, bringing the castle down upon Lady Ellyn and her surviving son. All resistance ended and the gates were thrown open. Tywin commanded the castle be put to the torch. For a day and night the flames burned until nothing was left of Tarbeck Hall except a blackened empty shell.

Battle of Tarbeck Hall

The Red Lion of Castamere, Lord Roger, arrived with two thousand hastily-gathered men just in time to witness Tarbeck Hall still in flames. Only a tenth of these men were knights. Tywin's host outnumbered Roger's three to one, most sources agree, with some insisting that the Lannisters outnumbered the Reynes five to one. Hoping surprise could win him the day, Lord Roger commanded his forces to attack the Lannister host. The battle that ensued was a closer thing than might have been expected, for the Lannisters had not formed up and the suddenness of the attack took them by surprise. If Lord Reyne had only had more heavy horse, his knights might well have been able to cut their way through to where Ser Tywin’s banner flew above his command tent. But there was too much distance to cover and too many men between them, and after the first shock the Lannisters recovered quickly, whereupon their numbers soon began to tell. Tywin Lannister himself led the counterattack.

His charge blunted, Lord Reyne had no choice but to wheel and flee, but he left near half his men dead upon the field. A rain of crossbow bolts chased his riders from the camp; one took Lord Reyne between the shoulders, punching through his backplate. The badly-wounded Roger Reyne was feverishly weak and unfit to now command the Reyne forces, so his younger brother Reynard assumed command.

Sack of Castamere

Castamere began as a mine like Casterly Rock, and the Reynes had become near as rich as the Lannisters during the Age of Heroes due to the large supply of gold, silver and gems in the mines. To protect their mine, they had raised curtain wall to protect the entrance with two stout towers on both sides to defend the approach. Over time as the gold and silver dried up, the mine had been widened and converted into Halls, galleries and bed chambers and even a vast underground ballroom. To the naked eye Castamere seemed a modest holding, fit for only a small lord or a landed knight, but nine tenths of the castle was beneath ground.

It was to these deep chambers that Reynard retreated to along with what remained of his household, knowing he lacked the men to defend Castamere's wall from a siege of Tywin's host. His small force could easily hold and even defeat any who attempted to storm the narrow passageways and chambers. The storage rooms in the lower levels also housed more then enough food to survive starvation. Reynard abandoned the surface entirely, and once all of his forces and kin were safely below the surface, Reynard sent word to Tywin to begin parley. He offered to submit to the Lannisters as a loyal servant, if Tywin would pardon them for their treason, and send down one of his brothers as a hostage against deceit.

Tywin did not honor his offer, nor did he respond to Roger's offer to resolve the matter by single combat. Instead he ordered his force to seal the mine entrances with pick and shovel. All the entrance points were blocked with tons of stone, earth and soil so that there was no way in or out. Tywin had his men dam a nearby stream in less then a day and it took them two more days to divert the stream to the mine entrance. Water easily found its way though the tiny gaps in the rubble that blocked the mouth of the entrance. Ser Reynard took three hundred men, women, and children down into those tunnels, but none emerged.

The men stationed to guard the entrance to ensure no one escaped claimed they could hear faint screaming and shouting, but by daybreak, there was nothing but silence. No one ever reopened those mines again, and they remain sealed to this day. Tywin commanded that the castle on the surface be set ablaze.[1]


By the end of the campaign both rebel houses were completely obliterated and Castamere and Tarbeck Hall were put to the torch by Tywin Lannister. Tywin let the ruined, blackened, and crumbling castles of the now-extinct Houses Reyne and Tarbeck stand empty to this day as a mute testament and warning to those who dare scorn the power of Casterly Rock.[6][7]

Tywin Lannister's actions to restore his family's power are immortalized in the song "The Rains of Castamere".


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 The World of Ice and Fire, House Lannister under the Dragons.
  2. Tywin started with 3,500 Lannister men, and was then joined by Marbrand and Prester: when Reyne arrived at Tarbeck with under 2,000 men he was said to be outnumbered by Tywin's host either three or five to one,. After the Reynes were defeated at Tarbeck more vassals flocked to Tywin's host, swelling it to twice its original size to besiege Castamere.
  3. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 32, Cersei VII.
  4. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  6. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  7. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.

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