Sack of King's Landing

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Sack of King's Landing
Sack of King's Landing.jpg
Lannister forces sack the city, screencap from Game of Thrones Blu-ray
Conflict Robert's Rebellion
Date 283 AC[1]
Place King's Landing
Result rebel / Lannister victory
Aerys killed by Ser Jaime Lannister
murder of the Targaryen children and Elia of Dorne
Combatants
House Lannister
Westerlands
House Targaryen
Red Keep garrison
City Watch of King's Landing
Commanders
Lord Tywin Lannister King Aerys II Targaryen
Strength
12,000[2] several thousand loyalists[2]
Casualties
unknown Aerys II Targaryen
Rossart
Elia Martell
Rhaenys Targaryen
Aegon Targaryen[3]

The Sack of King's Landing[4][5][6] was the final battle in Robert's Rebellion, taking place "close to a year"[2] after the war had begun. Soldiers of House Lannister sacked King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms.[2]

Prelude

The Battle of the Trident had resulted in a loss for the loyalists. Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had been killed by Lord Robert Baratheon, as had Prince Lewyn Martell and Ser Jonothor Darry, both of the Kingsguard. Ser Barristan Selmy, the third and last knight of the Kingsguard who had accompanied Rhaegar to the Trident, had been captured by the rebels and was severely wounded.

The loyalist army broke and ran, and the survivors fled back to King's Landing. Lord Robert Baratheon had taken a wound from Rhaegar, and so gave command of the vanguard to Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, who chased them to the capital. There, King Aerys II Targaryen, was located in the Red Keep, protected by serveral thousand loyalists.[2][7] When news about Rhaegar's death arrived at King's Landing, King Aerys sent his wife Rhaella and their young son Viserys to Dragonstone, their second stronghold, for safety. However, convinced that Prince Lewyn Martell and his ten thousand dornishmen had betrayed Rhaegar at the Trident, Aerys refused to allow Rhaegar's wife, Princess Elia Martell, and Rhaegar's two young children, Princess Rhaenys and the infant Prince Aegon, to go to Dragonstone as well. Instead, he kept them at the Red Keep as his hostages, to ensure the loyalty of Dorne.[7][8]

Aerys had been preparing his wildfire plot for a while prior to the Battle fo the Trident. Rossart, Garigus and Belis, three pyromancers, came and went day and night at the Red Keep, and Aerys's Hand of the King, Lord Qarlton Chelsted, eventually became suspicious. When he discovered Aerys's wildfire plot, Qarlton attempted to convince Aerys otherwise, by reasoning, jesting, threatening, and begging the king. Nothing could convince Aerys, however, so Chelsted resigned his office.[7] For that, Aerys had Chelsted dipped in wildfire and burned alive.[7][9][10] After the Battle of the Trident, Aerys named Rossart as his new Hand of the King.[8]

The Sack of King's Landing

Lord Tywin Lannister of Casterly Rock had remained neutral throughout the war, ignoring calls to arms by both the loyalists and the rebels. However, about a fortnight after the Battle of the Trident[11] he appeared at the gates of King's Landing with a force of twelve thousand men from the westerlands.[2] He claimed his loyalty was with Aerys, and requested entrance into the city.[2] While master of whispers Varys told the King to keep the gates closed, Grand Maester Pycelle convinced the king to open his gates to Tywin.[7][12] The Lannister forces began to sack the city, killing people of all ages and raping women.[13] A handpicked group of men raced to the Red Keep, to storm the walls.[8]

Ser Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard, who was holding the Red Keep, asked permission to make terms when he realized King's Landing would fall. Aerys King refused and ordered Jaime to kill his father, Lord Tywin Lannister, instead.[9][7]

With the Lannister forces sacking the city, Aerys held an audiance with his new Hand of the King, Lord Rossart. When Jaime's messenger informed him that Rossart had just left from the king, Jaime realised that Aerys meant to burn down the entire city.[7][14] He managed to find Rossart before the latter could leave the Red Keep, and killed him.[7] While Rossart fought back, he was no match for Jaime.[9] With Rossart's death, the execution of the wildfire plot had temporarily been halted. Jaime next went to the throne room of the Red Keep, where Aerys was waiting, and informed him of killing Rossart.[7] In shock, Aerys attempted to flee onto his throne. Jaime haulted him off the steps and slashed his throat,[9] killing the king before he could find another to send messages to the pyromancers.[7] Just in time to witness the end of Aerys's death, several of the knights from the westerlands, including Ser Elys Westerling and Lord Roland Crakehall, bursted into the hall.[9] Unable to deny having killed Aerys, Jaime's act earns him the nickname "Kingslayer".

Ned finds Jaime seated on the Iron Throne by Amok©

Meanwhile, Lannister soldiers were fighting the remaining loyalists on the steps and in the armory of the Red Keep. Ser Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch were scaling the walls of Maegor's Holdfast, while Lord Eddard Stark had just arrived at King's Landing and was leading his army through the King's Gate.[9] Jaime Lannister ordered the soldiers from the westerlands to spread the news that Aerys was dead. Lord Roland Crakehall asked Jaime if they should proclaim a new king, and for a moment Jaime considered Prince Viserys Targaryen,[9] who had become Aerys's new heir after Rhaegar's death,[8] and Prince Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar's young son. Realising both descended from Aerys, he told Roland to proclaim whoever he liked. Climbing the steps of the Iron Throne, Jaime sat down with his sword across his knees to await who would come and claim the throne.[9] Lord Eddard Stark eventually rode into the hall, and without saying a word, stared at Jaime, until the latter got up from the throne.[2]

Meanwhile, two of Tywin's knights, Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch, had entered Maegor's Holdfast. As Tywin would later admit, they needed a way to proof their loyalty to Robert's cause, and to ensure Robert's claim to the throne, Rhaegar's children had to die.[15] While maester [[[Yandel]], in later years, would report that it is unknown who killed Princess Elia Martell and her two children,[8] Tywin Lannister confirmed in private that Armory Lorch had dragged Princess Rhaenys Targaryen out from under Rhaegar's bed, before stabbing her half a hundred times.[15] Widely-known rumors and believes (in Casterly Rock even considered to be common knowledge)[16] stated that Gregor Clegane smashed the head of the infant Prince Aegon in front of Elia, while in the nursery, and then raped and murdered Elia with Aegon's brain still on his hands.[6][17][18] In 300 AC, Gregor Clegane would publicly admit to killing Elia and Aegon.[19]

When Robert Baratheon had arrived in King's Landing, Tywin laid the bodies of Elia, Aegon and Rhaenys beneath the Iron Throne and presented them to Robert as tokens of his fealty. The children had been wrapped in crimson cloaks to hide the blood.[20] While Rhaenys had still been recognizable, Aegon had been a "faceless horror of bone and brain and gore", and no one looked long at him, believing Tywin at his word when he stated it was Aegon.[21]

Aftermath

Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon argued over the killing of Rhaegar's family. While Eddard believed it to have been unjustified murder, Robert had been satisfied with the deaths of Rhaegar's children, whom he described as "dragonspawn". Jon Arryn was not able to calm their anger, and Eddard rode south the next day, where he lifted the siege of Storm's End. Afterwards, he travelled to the tower of joy, where he battled the three remaining Kingsguard knights of Aerys II and found his sister Lyanna Stark dying. Only the grief Eddard and Robert shared over the death of Lyanna Stark eventually reconcilled them.[2][22][23]

Tywin Lannister gave royalist survivors of the Sack, such as Ser Jaremy Rykker and Ser Alliser Thorne, the choice of joining the Night's Watch or being executed. Both Rykker and Thorne chose the Wall.[24]

Robert was coronated before Eddard Stark managed to lift the Siege of Storm's End.[25] While Eddard Stark had argued that Jaime Lannister should be stripped of his white cloak and sent to the Wall, Robert listened to Jon Arryn counsel instead.[25] At Robert's coronation, Jaime Lannister, Varys, and Pycelle were forgiven for their crimes, and taken into Robert's service.[26] During the coronation feast, Robert joked to Jaime about the fact that he was being called "kingslayer".[7] In the days following the Sack, Jaime Lannister hunted down the other Belis and Garigus, the two other pyromancers who had known about Aerys's wildfire plot, and killed them. Garigus wept for mercy, and Belis attempted to bribe Jaime with gold in exchange for his life.[7]

The deaths of Elia and her children enfuriated House Martell. While Prince Oberyn Martell's attempts at another rebellion were stopped by Prince Doran Martell following Jon Arryn's visit to Dorne the year after Robert took the throne [15][27] Doran continued to plot a Targaryen restoration in secret,[28] working closely together with his brother, Oberyn.[29]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Lord Eddard Stark repeats his disapproval of the Sack, Ser Jaime Lannister's murder of King Aerys II Targaryen, and the deaths of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen's children, but King Robert I Baratheon considers the actions to have been necessary to end the war.[2]

A Clash of Kings

Grand Maester Pycelle admits to Tyrion Lannister that he had convinced Aerys to open the gates of King's Landing for Tyrion's father, Lord Tywin Lannister. Pycelle had felt that the war had been lost after the death of Rhaegar. With Aerys mad, and Viserys and Aegon too young, Pycelle admits that he had hoped that Tywin would have been the new king.[12]

While in the House of the Undying, Daenerys Targaryen sees a vision of an old man telling another, "Let him be king overcharred bones and cooked meat. Let him be the king of ashes."[30]

A Storm of Swords

Jaime confides in Brienne of Tarth that he slew Lord Rossart and King Aerys to prevent King's Landing from burning.[7]

Lord Tywin Lannister tells his son Tyrion that he ordered the Sack to prove House Lannister's loyalty to Robert Baratheon, the victor of the Trident, and out of worry of what Aerys would do to Jaime, his bodyguard and hostage within the Red Keep. Tywin explains that while the deaths of Prince Aegon and Princess Rhaenys were necessary, he had not expected Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch to be so brutal, nor for Gregor to rape and kill Elia Martell.[15]

Prince Oberyn Martell duels Gregor to avenge the deaths of his sister Elia and her children.[19]

A Dance with Dragons

Illyrio Mopatis, Varys, and the Golden Company support a youth claiming to be Aegon Targaryen.[31][32] Varys allegedly smuggled the infant prince away to safety in the Free Cities, so that Gregor actually killed the so-called pisswater prince.[33]

Quotes

Eddard: I expected to find the gates closed to us.

Robert: Instead you found that our men had already taken the city. What of it?
Eddard: Not our men. The lion of Lannister flew over the ramparts, not the crowned stag. And they had taken the city by treachery.
Robert: Treachery was a coin the Targaryens knew well. Lannister paid them back in kind. It was no less than they deserved. I shall not trouble my sleep over it.
Eddard: You were not there. There was no honor in that conquest.[2]

- - Eddard Stark and Robert I Baratheon


Pycelle: All I did, I did for House Lannister. Always ... for years ... your lord father, ask him, I was ever his true servant ... 'twas I who bid Aerys open his gates ...

Tyrion: So the Sack of King's Landing was your work as well?
Pycelle: For the realm! Once Rhaegar died, the war was done.[12]

- Pycelle and Tyrion Lannister


I saw King's Landing after the Sack. Babes were butchered that day as well, and old men, and children at play. More women were raped than you can count.[13]
- Jorah Mormont to Daenerys Targaryen


References and Notes

  1. A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  3. Tyrion Lannister learns that Young Griff claims to be Aegon Targaryen in A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 18.
  4. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  5. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 The World of Ice and Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The End.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
  10. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  11. Rossart was named Hand of the King after the Battle of the Trident (The World of Ice and Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The End) and was Hand for a fortnight in total (A Storm of Swords, Jaime II), which ended with his death at the Sack of King's Landing.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 25, Tyrion VI.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23, Daenerys II.
  14. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jaime Lannister.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  16. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
  17. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
  18. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys V.
  19. 19.0 19.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
  20. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 45, Eddard XII.
  21. A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
  22. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
  23. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Lyanna Stark.
  24. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 21, Tyrion III.
  25. 25.0 25.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  26. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
  27. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
  28. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
  29. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
  30. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 48, Daenerys IV.
  31. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 24, The Lost Lord.
  32. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
  33. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.

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