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
Conflict Robert's Rebellion
Date 283 AC
Place King's Landing
Result Rebel / Lannister victory
Aerys killed by Ser Jaime of the Kingsguard
Murder of the Targaryen children and princess
House Lannister
House Targaryen
Crownlands garrison
Lord Tywin Lannister King Aerys II
12,000[1] several thousand loyalists[1]
unknown King Aerys II
Lord Rossart
Commander Manly Stokeworth
Princess Elia
Princess Rhaenys
Prince Aegon[2]

The Sack of King's Landing[3] occurred almost one year into Robert's Rebellion.[1]

The Battle

The survivors of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen's army fled to King's Landing after Rhaegar's death in the Battle of the Trident. Rhaegar's father, King Aerys II Targaryen, was protected by several thousand loyalists in the Red Keep.[1]

Lord Tywin Lannister, who had remained neutral until the Trident, marched to the gates of King's Landing with a force of 12,000 men, claiming loyalty to Aerys and asking to be let in. It was Grand Maester Pycelle who convinced the Mad King to open his gates to the Lannisters, which was done over the objections of his spymaster, Varys. Pycelle felt the realm needed a new king after the death of Rhaegar, and hoped it would have been Tywin.[1][4]

The Lannister forces then began to sack the city in Robert Baratheon's name. Aerys ordered his most recent Hand of the King, the pyromancer Rossart, to ignite the wildfire caches throughout the city, saying, "Let him be king over charred bones and cooked meat. Let him be the king of ashes."

Aerys then ordered Ser Jaime Lannister, one of his Kingsguard, to hold the Red Keep and kill his father, Lord Tywin. Instead, Jaime slew Lord Rossart, preventing the wildfire plot, and then slit the throat of Aerys before the Iron Throne. At approximately the same time, other Lannister soldiers fought Targaryen loyalists on the steps and in the armory of the Red Keep, and Lord Eddard Stark was leading Robert's vanguard through the city gates. Lord Roland Crakehall asked Jaime if they should proclaim a new king. Left unsaid was a clear implication, asking whether Jaime would proclaim Tywin Lannister, Robert Baratheon, or a member of House Targaryen. Jaime told Roland to proclaim whichever king he wished, as well as to spread word of Aerys's death to any Targaryen loyalists still fighting, in the hope it would convince them to surrender.[5]

Ned finds Jaime seated on the Iron Throne

Tywin sent his knights Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch to scale Maegor's Holdfast and deal with the rest of the royal family, securing the throne for Robert and proving that House Lannister had forsaken the Targaryens forever. Gregor killed the infant crown prince, Aegon Targaryen, while his mother watched, and then proceeded to rape and murder Princess Elia Martell herself. Amory dragged Princess Rhaenys from under her father Rhaegar's bed and stabbed her half a hundred times. When Eddard Stark arrived shortly thereafter at the head of the main rebel army, he found Jaime seated on the Iron Throne and Aerys's corpse slumped below it. Tywin Lannister presented the bodies of Rhaegar's wife Elia and the children Aegon and Rhaenys, as tokens of his fealty, laid out beneath the Iron Throne, wrapped in crimson cloaks.[6] The resulting argument between Ned and Robert led to Ned riding out alone to finish the war in the south.[1]


Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon argued over the killing of Rhaegar's family, Eddard believing it unjustified murder, Robert satisfied with the deaths of Rhaegar's children; even Jon Arryn could not calm their anger. Eddard went south and lifted the siege of Storm's End and finally to the Tower of Joy, and they were only reconciled by shared grief over the death of Lyanna Stark. [1]

Royalist survivors of the sack, such as Ser Jaremy Rykker and Ser Alliser Thorne, were given by Tywin Lannister the choice of joining the Night's Watch or being executed.[7]

Jaime Lannister personally hunted down the other two pyromancers that were part of the Mad King's wildfire plot, Wisdoms Garigus and Belis. Garigus wept for mercy while Belis tried to bribe Jaime with gold in exchange for his life. Jaime slew both men.[8]

Quotes about the Sack

The lion of Lannister flew over the ramparts, not the crowned stag. And they had taken the city by treachery. [1]
- Eddard Stark

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. [1]

- Robert Baratheon

It was I who bid Aerys open his gates ...[9]
- Grand Maester Pycelle's admission to 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. [10]
- Jorah Mormont

There was no honor in that conquest. [1]
- Eddard Stark

References and Notes

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