Tourney at Harrenhal

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Prince Rhaegar, champion of the joust. © Dejan Delic

The tourney at Harrenhal[1] was held in 281AC, the year of the false spring,[2] by Lord Walter Whent at Harrenhal in the Riverlands in honour of his daughter and to show off the wealth of House Whent. Spread over ten days, it was the greatest tourney of its time.

Contents

History

Barristan Selmy recalls that the tourney was announced by Lord Walter Whent shortly after he was visited by his brother, Ser Oswell Whent of the Kingsguard. The lavish prizes offered by Lord Whent brought hundreds of challengers to the tourney.[3] King Aerys II Targaryen attended the tournament only because Varys warned him that his son, Crown Prince Rhaegar, arranged the tournament as a pretext to meet with several high lords to discuss removing his father as king.[4]

During this occasion, 15-year-old Ser Jaime Lannister was admitted into the order of the Kingsguard. Although Jaime wanted to then compete in the tourney, King Aerys commanded him to return to King's Landing to guard Queen Rhaella and Prince Viserys.[5]

There was a seven-sided melee in the ancient style,[6][7] which Lord Robert Baratheon took part in.[1] Besides the melee and the joust, the tourney included an archery contest, an axe-throwing contest, a horse race and a tourney of singers.[7] There was also a mummer show.[3]

A mystery knight, the "Knight of the Laughing Tree", appeared in the lists to fight for the honour of Howland Reed of Greywater Watch.[7]

Rhaegar was champion of the joust, and in the end chose Lyanna Stark as queen of love and beauty, placing a crown of blue winter roses in her lap. This was scandalous in that, not only was Rhaegar already married to Elia of Dorne, who was present at the tourney, but Lyanna herself was betrothed to Lord Robert Baratheon.[1][7] Rhaegar's indiscretion culminated in his abduction of Lyanna a year later, which touched off the War of the Usurper and brought an end to Targaryen rule.

The Joust

Rhaegar crowning Lyanna by M.Luisa Giliberti©

There were five days of jousting.[7]

House TargaryenChampion: Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.

House UnknownHouse WhentUnknown jousters defeated the four sons of Lord Walter Whent of Harrenhal
House Laughing TreeHouse HaighThe Knight of the Laughing Tree defeated a member of House Haigh
House Laughing TreeHouse BlountThe Knight of the Laughing Tree defeated a member of House Blount
House Laughing TreeHouse FreyThe Knight of the Laughing Tree defeated a member of House Frey
House TargaryenHouse RoycePrince Rhaegar Targaryen defeated Lord Yohn Royce
House TargaryenHouse StarkPrince Rhaegar Targaryen defeated Brandon Stark
House TargaryenHouse DaynePrince Rhaegar Targaryen defeated Ser Arthur Dayne
House TargaryenHouse SelmyPrince Rhaegar Targaryen defeated Ser Barristan Selmy

Other Attendees

Lord Commander Gerold Hightower, Ser Oswell Whent, Lord Robert Baratheon, Ser Richard Lonmouth, Lord Eon Hunter, Lord Jon Arryn, Lord Mace Tyrell, Brandon Stark, Eddard Stark, Benjen Stark, Lyanna Stark, Elia Martell, Lord Jon Connington, Ashara Dayne, Oberyn Martell

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

In the Red Keep's black cells Eddard Stark vividly remembers the tourney at Harrenhal which took place when he was eighteen. He remembers the sights, the smells, and all who attended. He recalls when Rhaegar Targaryen won the joust and the moment when all the smiles died, as Rhaegar rode past his own wife, Elia Martell, to bestow the queen of beauty’s laurel on Lyanna Stark.[8]

A Storm of Swords

Arriving at Harrenhal sans sword-hand and as a captive of the Brave Companions, Jaime Lannister observes that many men have recently encamped outside of the castle, beside the lakeshore, where Lord Walter Whent had staged his greatest tourney in the year of the false spring. A bitter smile touches Jaime's lips as they cross that torn ground – someone has dug a privy trench in the very same spot were he had once knelt before King Aerys II Targaryen to say his vows.[9]

Encamped outside of Yunkai, Arstan Whitebeard tells Rhaegar's sister, Daenerys Targaryen, about the tourney staged by Lord Whent at Harrenhal beside the Gods Eye.[10] Meera tells Bran the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree.[7]

A Dance with Dragons

In Meereen, alone and melancholic on the terrace of the Great Pyramid, Ser Barristan Selmy remembers Old Lord Whent's tourney at Harrenhal and finds the memory of it still bitter.[4]

Quotes

The greatest lords and mightiest champions of the Seven Kingdoms rode in that tourney, and the Prince of Dragonstone bested them all.[10]
- Arstan Whitebeard to Queen Daenerys Targaryen


Yet when the jousting began, the day belonged to Rhaegar Targaryen. [8]
- Lord Eddard Stark

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard.
  2. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys.
  4. 4.0 4.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker (Barristan III).
  5. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime.
  6. Tourney Rules, (April 29, 1999) So Spake Martin
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard, p 631.
  9. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime, p 346.
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys, p 485.
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