Robert's Rebellion

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Robert's Rebellion
War of the Usurper
Roberts Rebellion.jpg
Date 282 AC-283 AC
Location Westeros
Battles Taking of Gulltown
Battles at Summerhall
Battle of Ashford
Battle of the Bells
Battle of the Trident
Battle at the Mander
Sack of King's Landing
Siege of Storm's End
Tower of Joy
Assault on Dragonstone
Result Decisive victory for the rebel forces;
House Baratheon becomes new royal line

The rebels
House Baratheon
House Stark
House Arryn
House Tully
House Greyjoy (late war)
House Lannister (late war)
The royalists
House Targaryen
House Tyrell
House Martell
House Darry
House Ryger
House Mooton
House Goodbrook
House Connington (switched sides)
House Cafferen (switched sides)
House Fell (switched sides)
House Grandison (switched sides)
House Grafton (switched sides)
Notable commanders
Jon Arryn


Robert Baratheon


Robert Baratheon

Storm's End

Stannis Baratheon
Eddard Stark (late siege)


Eddard Stark
Robert Baratheon
Jon Arryn
Hoster Tully

The Trident

Robert Baratheon
Jon Arryn
Eddard Stark
Hoster Tully

The Mander

Quellon Greyjoy

King's Landing

Tywin Lannister
Jaime Lannister
(changed side)

Tower of Joy

Eddard Stark


Stannis Baratheon
Marq Grafton


Lord Fell
Lord Cafferen
Lord Grandison


Randyll Tarly

Storm's End

Mace Tyrell
Paxter Redwyne


Jon Connington

The Trident

Rhaegar Targaryen
Barristan Selmy
Lewyn Martell
Jonothor Darry

King's Landing

Aerys II Targaryen
Owen Merryweather
Jon Connington
Qarlton Chelsted
Jaime Lannister

Tower of Joy

Gerold Hightower

Robert's Rebellion, also known as the War of the Usurper,[1] was a rebellion against House Targaryen, primarily instigated by Eddard Stark, Jon Arryn, and Robert Baratheon, for whom it is named. It lasted "close to a year"[2] and resulted in the end of the Targaryen dynasty in the Seven Kingdoms and the beginning of Robert Baratheon's reign.


Tourney at Harrenhal

In 281 AC, a grand tourney was held by Lord Walter Whent at Harrenhal.[3] Many nobles from all over the Seven Kingdoms came to the riverlands to take part in the festivities. Amongst them were the heir to Winterfell, Brandon Stark, and his younger siblings, Eddard, Lyanna and Benjen.[4]

The most prominent visitor of the tourney was King Aerys II Targaryen, however. Aerys had not left the Red Keep for many years, ever since his half-year capture during the Defiance of Duskendale, but was inspired to come to the tourney by words from his master of whisperers, the eunuch Varys.[5]

The tourney was cause for great celebration, as spring had come to Westeros, or so men thought.[6] In addition, all of the White Swords had gathered to welcome their newest member, Ser Jaime Lannister. However, the tourney's ending was less joyful. After winning the final tilt, Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was to crown the new queen of love and beauty. Instead of crowning his wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, Rhaegar rode past her and crowned Lyanna Stark of Winterfell instead. Eddard Stark would later recall this moment as "the moment when all smiles died".[3]

Abduction of Lyanna Stark

An unknown amount of time later, Lyanna Stark was seemingly abducted by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Her brother, Brandon Stark, was on his way to Riverrun to wed Catelyn Tully, when the news reached him. Brandon rode at once to King's Landing with his companions, Ethan Glover, who was Brandon's squire, Elbert Arryn, nephew to Lord Jon Arryn and the heir of the Eyrie, Kyle Royce, and Jeffory Mallister.[7] Brandon rode for the Red Keep, and outside its gates, not knowing that Rhaegar was not present, shouted for Rhaegar to come out and die. This lead to King Aerys II Targaryen to arrest Brandon and his companions on the charge of plotting the murder on the crown prince.[7]

Aerys summoned the fathers of those who stood accused to court. All of them, and their sons, were killed, with only Ethan Glover as survivor. Lord Rickard Stark arrived with two hundred of his best men, yet none of them would ever return north. Rickard demanded a trial by battle, a request that the king granted him. Aerys declared fire to be the champion of House Targaryen, and had Rickard, who had dressed in his armor, suspended from the rafters in the throne room. Next, the king had his pyromancers, Rossart amongst them, kindle a blaze beneath the Lord of Winterfell.[7]

Brandon Stark was brought in as well, and placed in a Tyroshi strangling device. A longsword placed just outside of his reach, Brandon strangled himself in an attempt to reach the sword and save his father, while Lord Rickard cooked in his armor.[7]

Next, Aerys called for the heads of Lord Robert Baratheon of Storm's End, Lyanna's betrothed,[8] and Eddard Stark, now the Lord of Winterfell, after the deaths of his father and older brother. Robert and Eddard were in the Eyrie, however, and Jon Arryn refused to oblige. Instead, he raised his banners in revolt.[9] This act is seen as the start of the war, which would last "close to a year".[2]

The Rebellion

Overview of the war: 1 Summerhall, 2 Ashford, 3 Battle of the Bells, 4 The Trident, 5 King's Landing, 6 Storm's End. The colors represent faction amies: Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. Lannister. Targaryen.

Taking of Gulltown

Main article: Taking of Gulltown

The fighting of the rebellion began in the Vale of Arryn. Though Jon Arryn called for all his banners, not all of his bannermen sided with him. There were those who sided with the king, chief among them Marq Grafton. Grafton called the other loyalists to aid him in barring the rebels from entering the port of Gulltown.[10] With the port blocked, Eddard Stark decided to make his own way back to the north by crossing the Mountains of the Moon to the Fingers, where he would need to find a fisherman to carry him across the Bite.[10] Once north, Eddard could call his banners.

Gulltown's defenses eventually fell after an unknown amount of time, with Robert Baratheon slaying Marq Grafton in the taking of Gulltown.[10] Robert then departed for Storm's End to call his banners as well.[2]

Battles at Summerhall

Main article: Battles at Summerhall

Just as not all the lords in the Vale had sided with Jon Arryn, not all the lords in the stormlands sided with Robert Baratheon. The first major battle in the stormlands took place at Summerhall.[11] There were three battles at Summerhall (1 on the map), all fought on one day. Lords Grandison, Cafferen, and Fell planned to join their hosts at Summerhall and march on Storm’s End, but Robert Baratheon had learned of their plans and struck first, attacking each army individually as they arrived. Lord Fell died in the battle and Robert's forces captured his son, Silveraxe.

After this battle, Robert returned to Storm's End for unknown reasons.[12] There, Robert turned his enemies into friends, as he managed to get Lords Grandison and Cafferen, both loyalist commanders, over to the rebel side, as well as Silveraxe.

Battle of Ashford

Main article: Battle of Ashford

The next main battle that was fought was the Battle of Ashford (2 on the map). It was an indecisive victory for loyalist forces when Lord Randyll Tarly's van smashed Robert’s forces before the bulk of Lord Mace Tyrell’s main force could be brought to bear. Lord Cafferen, who had switched to the rebel side, was cut down by Randyll Tarly. Lord Tarly sent Lord Cafferen’s head to King Aerys II. By all indications, the battle was indecisive, but Mace likes to remember it as his one great victory over Robert despite his lack of involvement. Robert Baratheon managed to escape capture, in the end.

After the Battle of Ashford, Mace Tyrell marched on Storm's End, and laid siege to the castle. This siege would last "close to a year".

Battle of the Bells

Main article: Battle of the Bells

In the meantime, Eddard Stark had reached Winterfell and called his banners, and had marched to the south. Hoster Tully, the lord of Riverrun, had also joined the rebellion, on the side of the rebels, an allegiance secured by the betrothal between Eddard and Catelyn Tully, to replace the match between Brandon Stark and Catelyn, which fell through when Brandon had been killed a few short days before he was to wed Catelyn.

King Aerys, due to the events in the stormlands, came to believe that his Hand of the King, Owen Merryweather, was ineffectual. The king was even considering that Merryweather might have been so ineffectual as to possibly aiding the rebellion.[13] In result, Owen was stripped of his lands and titles, and exiled.[14] Lord Jon Connington, a friend of Rhaegar's with a reputation of a warrior, was named as Hand in Owen's stead.[13]

Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark by Tomasz Jedruszek © Fantasy Flight Games

Jon Connington personally led an army into the field. He was at Robert's heels, when they arrived at the Stoney Sept,[15] which would become the site of the Battle of the Bells (3 on the map), the first major battle known to have taken place in 283 AC. Robert was wounded and hiding in Stoney Sept, when Jon took the town by force and began searching from house to house. Before Jon could find Robert, however, the forces of Eddard Stark and Hoster Tully swept into the town. Jon and his loyalist army fought back fiercely. Jon managed to wound Hoster and killed Lord Jon Arryn's cousin and last heir, Denys Arryn. At the same time, the two armies were battling all around them in the streets and in the alleys, even on some of the rooftops. At a certain point, Robert Baratheon came out of hiding and led a counterattack. When Connington saw the battle was lost, he retreated in good order.

After the battle was done, King Aerys realized that Robert was not some outlaw lord, but rather the greatest threat to his dynasty since Daemon I Blackfyre. Jon Connington was exiled for his failure and stripped of lands and titles. To replace Connington, Lord Qarlton Chelsted was named Hand. It was after the Battle of the Bells that Aerys ordered his pyromancers to place caches of wildfire throughout King's Landing, even within the Red Keep itself.[16]

A United Cause. - Illustrated by Regis Moulun. © Fantasy Flight Games

With the death of Denys Arryn, Hoster Tully managed to make a marriage match between his younger daughter, Lysa, and Jon Arryn, who needed an heir, and thus a wife known to be fertile.[17][9] Hoster saw both his daughters wed during a double ceremony.[8] Amongst those present at the wedding was Robert Baratheon.[18]

However, like in the Vale, not all the Tully bannermen joined the rebel cause. Houses Ryger,[19] Darry, Goodbrook and Mooton took the side of the Targaryens in the war, and House Frey remained neutral until the situation became clearer.[19][20][21]

After the Battle of the Bells had been fought, Barristan Selmy and Jon Darry of the Kingsguard were sent into the riverlands to retrieve the remnants of Connington's army, while the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Gerold Hightower, was send by King Aerys to find Rhaegar.[22] Rhaegar eventually returned, and managed to convince his father to ask Lord Tywin Lannister for help. From Casterly Rock the only reply was silence.[16]

Aerys's most recent Hand, Qarlton Chelsted, had become suspicious of the pyromancers who visited the king day and night. When he uncovered Aerys's wildfire plot, he tried to bring the king to other thoughts, but nothing he tried would work. In the end, he choose to resign as Hand, which caused Aerys to burn him alive. Aerys's favorite pyromancer, Rossart, was named Hand of the King in Chelsted's stead.[16]

Battle of the Trident

Main article: Battle of the Trident
The Battle of the Trident as depicted by Justin Sweet in The World of Ice and Fire.

Eventually, both loyalist and rebel forces gathered for the decisive battle in 283 AC: the Battle of the Trident (4 on the map).[23] During the battle, Prince Rhaegar and Robert met in single combat on a ford of the Trident, while the battle crashed around them.[8] Robert slew Rhaegar with a blow to the chest from his warhammer so powerful that it smashed the rubies right from the armor. After Rhaegar fell, the Targaryen host broke and ran, and the victory went to the rebels. The site has since been known as the ruby ford.

Amongst the dead on the side of the royalists were two of the three Kingsguard who had been present for the battle, Prince Lewyn Martell and Ser Jonothor Darry. Ser Barristan Selmy, also present, had been severely wounded.

It was not until the end of the war, around the time the Battle of the Trident was being fought, that Robert Baratheon proclaimed his intention to claim the throne.[24] To justify Robert's claim, maesters later used his bloodties to House Targaryen.[25] Robert's grandmother, Rhaelle Targaryen, had been the daughter of King Aegon V Targaryen,[26] giving him the best claim to the throne outside of Aerys, his children and grandchildren.

Having been severely wounded by Rhaegar during the battle, Robert gave the command of pursuit to his friend, Eddard Stark, hoping to besiege King's Landing, which was believed to have been held by several thousand men.[2] With the war all but won, House Frey declared for the rebels. Lord Walder Frey's slow response in the rebellion would cause Lord Hoster Tully to name him "the late Lord Frey" ever since.[19]

Battle at the Mander

Main article: Battle at the Mander

Quellon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands, desired neutrality for the ironborn during the war. After Pyke was informed of Rhaegar's death, however, Quellon was convinced by his eldest sons—Balon, Euron, and Victarion—to join the rebels as soon as possible or else lose all chance at spoils. Since the intentions of House Lannister of Casterly Rock were as yet unknown, most of the ironmen's fleet remained at home. Quellon led fifty longships in attacking the Reach.

The Greyjoys captured some ships and and raided some towns and villages. The Greyjoys were intercepted by the longships of the Shield Islands, however, at the mouth of the Mander. After Lord Quellon was slain in the battle at the Mander, his heir, Balon, led the remaining ironmen back to the Iron Islands, having accomplished little.[27]

Sack of King's Landing

Main article: Sack of King's Landing

The Sack of King's Landing (5 on the map) in 283 AC[28] was the last major battle of the war. Lord Tywin Lannister, who had remained neutral during the entire war, had finally stirred from Casterly Rock, suddenly appearing, shortly after the Battle of the Trident, in front of the gates of King's Landing, claiming loyalty to Aerys and asking to be let in. Aerys favored the advice of Grand Maester Pycelle over that of his spymaster Varys and opened the gates of the city. This proved Aerys's undoing, as the Lannister forces began to sack the city in Robert's name.

Realizing all was lost, Aerys ordered his last Hand, the pyromancer Rossart, to ignite the wildfire caches throughout the city. Aerys then ordered Ser Jaime Lannister, the last of his Kingsguard present in the city, and Tywin's own son, to kill his father. Instead, Jaime slew Lord Rossart and then murdered Aerys himself in the throne room. In the following days Jaime killed the remaining pyromancers aware of the wildfire plot.

Meanwhile, Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch had entered Maegor's Holdfast to deal with the rest of the royal family, to secure the throne for Robert, and to prove that House Lannister had forsaken the Targaryens forever. Gregor killed Prince Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar's son and heir in front of the babe's mother, Princess Elia Martell, and then raped and murdered Elia herself with Aegon's blood and brains still on his hands. Amory dragged Princess Rhaenys Targaryen from under her father's bed and killed her, stabbing her half a hundred times. When Eddard Stark arrived shortly thereafter, he found Jaime seated on the Iron Throne and Aerys's corpse slumped below it.

When Robert Baratheon finally arrived in the city, Tywin Lannister presented the bodies of Elia, Aegon, and Rhaenys as tokens of his fealty. Robert was pleased with the deaths of Rhaegar's family, but Eddard thought it a brutal act, and called it murder of children. This resulted in an argument between Eddard and Robert, which led to the former riding out alone to finish the war in the south.[2]

Siege of Storm's End

Main article: Siege of Storm's End

The siege of Storm's End (6 on the map) held up Mace Tyrell's forces at Storm's End for the better part of the entire war. During this siege the forces of the Reach, led by Mace and Lord Paxter Redwyne, feasted within sight of the castle while Stannis Baratheon and his men starved inside. Help for Storm's End eventually came in the form of Davos, who smuggled a cargo of onions and salt fish past the blockade of the Redwyne fleet.[29] In the end, Stannis and his forces held out until Eddard Stark arrived. Lords Tyrell and Redwyne quickly dipped their banners.[30]

Combat at the Tower of Joy - The End of Aerys's Kingsguard

Main article: Combat at the tower of joy

Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Gerold Hightower, had been absent from the battles on the Trident, King's Landing, and Storm's End. They were later found guarding a small tower in Dorne, which Rhaegar had named the tower of joy. Lord Eddard rode there with six companions: Howland Reed, Lord Willam Dustin, Ethan Glover, Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull and Ser Mark Ryswell, after lifting the siege of Storm's End. The seven companions fought the three Kingsguard, with only Eddard and Howland surviving. Lyanna Stark was found in the tower, and died shortly after she extracted a promise from her brother. Eddard then tore down the tower to make cairns for the dead. Afterwards, Eddard rode to Starfall to deliver Arthur's sword, Dawn, to his sister, Ashara Dayne, who leapt into the Summer Sea shortly afterwards.

Assault on Dragonstone

Main article: Assault on Dragonstone

After the royalist defeat at the Trident, Queen Rhaella Targaryen and her son, Prince Viserys Targaryen, were sent to the island of Dragonstone[16] with the Red Keep's master-at-arms, Ser Willem Darry. There, Viserys was crowned by his mother,[31] while on the mainland, Stannis Baratheon began constructing a new royal fleet to lead an assault on Dragonstone.

Nine months after the flight to Dragonstone,[32] the queen died in childbed, giving birth to Daenerys Targaryen during a great storm that destroyed the Targaryen fleet at anchor.[32] With most of the Targaryen fleet destroyed, and with the Baratheon fleet ready to take Dragonstone, the Targaryen household at their last stronghold was willing to sell the children to the new king, Robert I Baratheon. Before Stannis could arrive, however, Willem and a handful of men smuggled Viserys, Daenerys, and her wet nurse from the nursery and sailed for Braavos, where the last Targaryens began their lives of wandering exile. Stannis then led the successful assault on Dragonstone.


Following the successful conclusion of the rebellion, House Targaryen was displaced from power and most of its members wiped out, with only two survivors in exile across the narrow sea. Robert I Baratheon took the Iron Throne and named Jon Arryn his Hand. As Lyanna Stark had died after her abduction, Jon convinced Robert to marry Cersei Lannister instead, to bind House Lannister closely to them.

Rumors arose of Dorne plotting another rebellion, with the Dornish prince Oberyn Martell, angered about the death of his sister Elia, nephew Aegon, and niece Rhaenys, trying to raise the banners for the exiled Viserys Targaryen. Ravens flew and riders rode, but the messages they carried remain unknown until this day, as Jon Arryn went to Dorne the year after the rebellion, and discussed a peace with Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne. All talk of rebellion has ended since then.[33]


Once Rhaegar died, the war was done.[34]
- Pycelle to Tyrion Lannister

References and sources

  1. So Spake Martin: The Siege of Storm's End, July 18, 1999
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
  4. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
  5. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
  6. 281 AC is called "the year of the false spring", showing that it had been winter previously. The term "false spring" shows that the warmer weather had only been for a short period of time, and that winter weather thus returned shortly thereafter.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  11. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
  12. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  13. 13.0 13.1 So Spake Martin: Young Lord Connington, August 25, 2000
  14. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
  15. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 29, Arya V.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
  17. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  18. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 28, Catelyn V.
  20. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
  21. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 16, Eddard III.
  22. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Rhaegar Targaryen.
  23. A Forum of Ice and Fire: TWOIAF Spoilers Inconsistency or Intentional?
  24. So Spake Martin: US Signing Tour (Huntington Beach, CA), November 19, 2005
  25. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn II.
  26. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
  27. The World of Ice and Fire, The Iron Islands: The Old Way and the New.
  28. A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
  29. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  30. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
  31. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Viserys Targaryen.
  32. 32.0 32.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  33. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  34. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 25, Tyrion VI.

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