War of the Five Kings

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War of the Five Kings (phase I)
Zippo514 the war of five kings.jpg
The Five Kings - by Zippo514 ©

Date 298 AC - 300 AC
Location Westeros
Result Decisive Baratheon of King's Landing, Lannister and Tyrell victory (phase I) Ongoing, localized hostilities in the north and the stormlands (phase II)
1. The King on the Iron Throne
2. The King in the North and the Trident
3. The King in the Narrow Sea (lost his seat)
4. The King in Highgarden
5. The King of the Isles and the North

The War of the Five Kings is a large, multi-theater conflict fought in Westeros from 298 AC until 300 AC, though some hostilities have resumed as a new claimant to the Iron Throne has arisen as well as a new King of the Iron Islands. As the name implies, over the course of the war five men claim the title of king: Joffrey Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, and Renly Baratheon all claim the Iron Throne, whilst the separatists Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy attempt to secede their lands from the rule of the Iron Throne, with Robb claiming the titles of King in the North and King of the Trident and Balon claiming to be King of the Isles and the North.

The War of the Five Kings is the principal military conflict depicted in the first three novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and its aftermath and successor conflicts continue in the latest two novels.


Fifteen years prior to the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings, Lord Robert Baratheon of Storm's End led a successful popular rebellion to overthrow the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. Following the defeat of Aerys's forces, Robert reigned as king over all the Seven Kingdoms, securing his power with a political marriage to Cersei of House Lannister. Within a few years the royal succession was also secured by three heirs: Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen.

However, King Robert's brother, Stannis, eventually became suspicious of the legitimacy of Robert’s three children and shared his suspicions with Lord Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King. They investigated and concluded that the children were not Robert's, but the product of incest between Queen Cersei and her twin brother Ser Jaime Lannister. Before their evidence could be presented to King Robert, however, Lord Arryn was fatally poisoned. Stannis, fearing for his family’s safety, immediately fled to his stronghold on the island of Dragonstone. Oblivious to their suspicions, Robert replaced the late Jon Arryn with his old friend, Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell as Hand.

While investigating the death of his predecessor Ned independently discovered the truth about Queen Cersei's children. However, before he could share his discoveries with the king, Robert was fatally wounded by a boar in a hunting incident orchestrated by Queen Cersei. While searching for potential allies in the capitol, Ned shared his discoveries with Robert's youngest brother and Master of Laws, Renly Baratheon. Ned and Renly disagreed however, on how to proceed, so Renly left King's Landing for Highgarden, unbeknownst to Lord Stark. When Stark attempted his coup, he was betrayed by Petyr Baelish, and the City Watch, and he was arrested and imprisoned by the Lannisters.


The Course of the War

The War in the Riverlands

The Lannisters' riverlands campaign: 1.Golden Tooth, 2.Mummer's Ford, 3.Riverrun, 4.Conquering the riverlands

The War of the Five Kings begins as a local conflict when Catelyn Stark seizes Tyrion Lannister for the attempted murder of her son Bran. Although he bears no special love for his son, Lord Tywin Lannister refuses to allow the slight to his family's honor to go unpunished. In response, he masses two hosts at Casterly Rock in preparation for an invasion of Catelyn’s homeland, the riverlands. One host of 20,000 men is to be commanded by Lord Tywin himself, while the other 15,000 men are to be commanded by his son Ser Jaime Lannister.

Hostilities begin when Lord Tywin dispatches his bannerman Ser Gregor Clegane to raid the riverlands disguised as a common brigand. The raids create chaos and force many river lords to return to their own keeps rather than attend the general muster at Riverrun. At the same time, Lord Tywin hopes the raids will lure Catelyn’s husband, Lord Eddard Stark, into the riverlands where he can be captured, bringing a swift conclusion to the conflict. However, Tywin's plan is unknowingly foiled by his son Jaime, whose ambush of Eddard in the streets of King's Landing results in a broken leg which prevents Eddard from travelling. The wounded Hand of the King thus sends Lord Beric Dondarrion to stop Gregor Clegane in his stead.

When Ser Edmure Tully discovers that the Lannisters are raising a host, he demands that Lord Tywin proclaim his intent. When no response comes, the Tully banners are called to Riverrun but this proves difficult with Tywin's raiders harassing the border. Only 4,000 men under the command of Lords Vance and Clement Piper can be spared to guard the main pass between the westerlands and the riverlands at the Golden Tooth.

In the midst of this crisis, King Robert I Baratheon dies after a drunken hunting accident, naming Eddard Stark as Lord Regent until his supposed son, Prince Joffrey, grows to manhood. Eddard secretly changes the king’s will to read “rightful heir,” intending to offer the throne to Robert’s rightful heir, Stannis Baratheon. However, when Eddard attempts to take Joffrey into custody as a false claimant he is betrayed by Petyr Baelish and arrested. By this time, King Robert’s youngest brother, Renly Baratheon, has fled the city to gather his own army.

When word of Lord Eddard’s arrest arrives in Winterfell, Robb Stark calls his father’s bannermen together and marches south with a hastily assembled host of 12,000 men, planning to gather more as he moves south. At the same time, Lord Tywin launches his planned invasion of the riverlands.

  • Battle near the Golden Tooth. The Lannister invasion of the riverlands begins when Ser Jaime Lannister descends on the riverlands with 15,000 men. Attacking from the west, Jaime is tasked with capturing Riverrun, the seat of House Tully and the capital of the riverlands. In the opening battle of the war, Jaime easily breaks the men under Lords Vance and Piper guarding the border near the Golden Tooth. Lord Vance is slain and Lord Piper is forced to retreat back to Riverrun with the Lannisters on his heels.
  • Battle at the Mummer's Ford. While crossing the Mummer's Ford, Lord Beric Dondarrion's force of around 100 men, sent to bring Gregor Clegane to justice, is ambushed by Clegane and Lord Tywin. Dondarrion's force is nearly wiped out; Lord Beric, Lord Lothar Mallery, Ser Raymun Darry, and Ser Gladden Wylde are all killed, as are most of the Stark guardsmen sent along by Eddard Stark. Victorious, Lord Tywin closes off the Goldroad and continues his march north into the riverlands. Meanwhile, Thoros of Myr and Alyn of Winterfell rally the survivors and manage to escape. Later, Thoros inadvertently resurrects Beric Dondarrion while performing the last kiss for him. They continue to lead the remaining men against the Lannisters, harassing Lord Tywin’s supply lines. When they learn King Joffrey has declared them outlaws, Dondarrion’s band forms the core of the outlaw organization called the brotherhood without banners.
  • Battle near Riverrun. After his victory at the Golden Tooth, Jaime Lannister advances to meet the massed power of House Tully outside the walls of Riverrun. The overwhelming number of Lannisters puts the river lords to rout and Ser Edmure Tully and many others are taken captive. However, Lord Tytos Blackwood manages to lead some of the survivors back within Riverrun, forcing the Lannisters to lay siege to the castle.
  • Conquering the riverlands. After defeating Dondarrion, Lord Tywin leads his 20,000 men northeast toward the ruby ford, conquering much the riverlands around the Trident. With Lord Blackwood besieged in Riverrun, Tywin takes Raventree Hall. Lady Shella Whent surrenders Harrenhal due to a lack of defenders. Meanwhile, Ser Gregor Clegane burns the lands of the Pipers and Brackens.[1] The Lannisters also capture Darry.

With its armies broken and scattered, its capital besieged, and its heir Edmure Tully captured, the war is essentially lost for House Tully. Although Ser Marq Piper and Lord Karyl Vance begin guerrilla raids and Lord Jason Mallister falls back to his stronghold at Seagard, the only hope for the Tullys lies with the northmen, who are held in check by the Green Fork and the second Lannister host under Lord Tywin.

The Wolf and the Lion

Robb's riverlands campaign: 1.Camp at Moat Cailin 2.Advance to the Twins 3.Green Fork 4.Whispering Wood 5.Battle of the Camps

The Lannisters meet their first real opposition when House Stark enters the war on behalf of House Tully. After assembling his force on the march, Robb Stark arrives at Moat Cailin, where he is joined by his mother Catelyn and a final 1,750 men from White Harbor, bringing his total to 20,000. Moat Cailin is a formidable defensive position that has defeated countless southron invaders in the past. Here Robb garrisons a small force, consisting mostly of archers, to hold the ruin. Additionally, Robb sends word to Howland Reed to have the crannogmen bleed any Lannister attempt to come north. However, Robb knows Lord Tywin is too smart to try and will stay close to the Trident, taking castles one by one.

Robb has no choice but to move south, but his options are limited. To relieve Riverrun, he must cross the Green Fork either at the Twins (where House Frey has remained decidedly neutral) or at the ruby ford (which Lord Tywin can easily seal off). Eventually, Robb decides to do both. Splitting his horse and foot, Robb sends the foot with Lord Roose Bolton down the kingsroad to engage Lord Tywin, while secretly crossing with his horse at the Twins to race to Riverrun and surprise the besiegers. In exchange for his crossing and the support of the Freys (who provide 4,000 men), Robb agrees to marry one of Lord Walder Frey’s daughters.

  • Battle on the Green Fork. After parting with Robb at the Twins, Roose Bolton marches down the kingsroad with roughly 18,000 men, mostly infantry, to engage Lord Tywin. He plans a night attack to catch the Lannisters off-guard, but Ser Addam Marbrand's outriders discover them and rouse Lord Tywin's army in time for battle. The Lannisters win an easy victory, but Tywin learns from the prisoners that Robb has tricked him and is riding to relieve Riverrun. Rather than pursue the remnants of Bolton's army, Tywin sets a grueling pace back toward Riverrun. This allows Bolton to reform his army and retreat to the Twins.
  • Battle in the Whispering Wood. After secretly crossing at the Twins with his cavalry, Robb Stark rides hard for Riverrun in hopes of surprising Ser Jaime Lannister and lifting the siege before Lord Tywin can reinforce them. Along the way, Robb is bolstered by Mallister forces from Seagard. Unaware of the danger and bored with the sedentary siege, Jaime Lannister frequently rides out on sorties against Marq Piper and Karyl Vance with only a few hundred men. After eliminating the Lannister outriders, Robb baits Jaime with a small force into a trap in the Whispering Wood, north of Riverrun. The ambush is a complete success for the Starks, who capture Jaime and nearly a hundred other knights and a dozen lords bannermen. However, in a last-ditch attempt to turn the battle, Jaime charges Robb and kills several prominent nobles of his bodyguard, including Torrhen and Eddard Karstark, sons of Lord Rickard Karstark.
  • Battle of the Camps. The night after the Whispering Wood, Robb is able to catch the Lannister forces besieging Riverrun completely off-guard. In order to besiege Riverrun properly the Lannister force has been divided into three camps separated by the Tumblestone and the Red Fork, leaving them vulnerable. The attack begins when Ser Brynden Tully leads the Stark vanguard to overrun the north camp. Lord Andros Brax attempts to aid the beleaguered camp, but the Tumblestone carries his rafts into range of Riverrun's walls. Soon most of the rafts are flipped, killing Lord Brax and many others. The west camp then comes under attack with Robb leading the charge. The Lannisters there form a shieldwall but are taken in the rear by a sortie from Riverrun led by Lord Tytos Blackwood. Blackwood and his men manage to liberate many prisoners, including Ser Edmure Tully. The remaining camp, containing roughly 2,000 spearmen and as many bowmen, is left unmolested and retreats in good order back to the Golden Tooth under the command of Ser Forley Prester.
  • The execution of Eddard Stark. Cersei Lannister's greatest fear at the outbreak of the war is that Stannis Baratheon will capture King's Landing before the Lannisters can consolidate their position. To prevent this, she needs peace with the Starks and is willing to make a deal: if Eddard will confess to treason, order Robb to make peace, and declare Joffrey the true heir, he will be allowed to take the black. To ensure Eddard’s compliance, the spymaster Varys points out that Eddard's daughter Sansa (now a ward of the crown) is also liable to be executed if he refuses. On the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor, Eddard publicly makes his false confession. However, instead of honoring the agreement, King Joffrey I arbitrarily orders that Eddard be beheaded, destroying any chance of peace between Stark and Lannister.
  • Retreat to Harrenhal. News of Eddard Stark's execution, his son Jaime's capture, and Renly Baratheon's coronation is discussed by Lord Tywin at the crossroads inn as he is retreating from his victory on the Green Fork. His army is now in a precarious position: Robb Stark sits to the west across his supply lines, Roose Bolton has reformed his army to the north, and Renly Baratheon in marching up from the south. Meanwhile, Stannis Baratheon lurks on Dragonstone, within striking distance of the capital. In response, Lord Tywin retreats south to Harrenhal and dispatches three raiding parties under Ser Gregor Clegane, Ser Amory Lorch, and Vargo Hoat to set the riverlands afire from the Gods Eye to the Red Fork. To prevent any more political blunders like the execution of Eddard, Tywin dispatches his son Tyrion to King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King in his place.
  • Sack of Darry. The recapture of Darry does not last long. Before the castle can be properly repaired, Ser Gregor Clegane attacks the castle with his fierce company. After his victory over the garrison, Clegane has the entire household put to the sword, including the young Lord Lyman, which ends the male line of House Darry.

The Crowning of the Kings

With the deaths of King Robert I Baratheon and Lord Eddard Stark, the realm sees the rise of multiple kings trying to fill the void. Robert's supposed son Joffrey Baratheon assumes the Iron Throne in King's Landing. Unable or unwilling to accept Joffrey as king, four rival kings soon arise to contest for power in Westeros. In order of proclamation, the kings are:

  • King Renly Baratheon, the youngest brother of the late King Robert. After failing to convince Eddard Stark to seize power while Robert lies dying, Renly flees to Highgarden. There, with the help of his lover Ser Loras Tyrell, Renly is able to secure the support of House Tyrell by wedding Lord Mace Tyrell's daughter Margaery. With the strength of both the Reach and the stormlands behind him, Renly declares himself Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. He assembles a massive army of 100,000 men and begins marching slowly on King's Landing, letting the Lannisters and Starks bleed each other while his new father-in-law Mace continues assembling a reserve host at Highgarden.
  • King Stannis Baratheon, the eldest living brother of King Robert. Having fled to Dragonstone following Jon Arryn's death, Stannis has been gathering his strength. Knowing the illegitimacy of Robert's children, Stannis proclaims himself the rightful heir, believing it is his duty to overthrow all usurpers. As master of ships, Stannis's army is too small to be a threat but his portion of the royal fleet is considerable. However, Stannis is counseled by a priestess of R'hllor named Melisandre, who has prophesied that Renly will die and that his army will flock to join Stannis. Encouraged by this prediction, Stannis sails for his brother Renly's seat at Storm's End with his 5,000 men.
  • King Balon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands. As soon as word of unrest within the Seven Kingdoms reaches Lord Balon, he begins calling his banners and seizing every ship in the Iron Islands in preparation for a second rebellion. When his son Theon arrives bearing an offer of alliance from King Robb, Balon dismisses it, declaring that Casterly Rock is too strong. In addition, as Lord Reaper of Pyke and a proponent of the Old Way, Balon will not suffer to be given a crown; he must “pay the iron price” and take it by force. Balon has his own plan: with the northmen fighting in the south their homelands are poorly garrisoned and vulnerable. With his only surviving son no longer a captive of the Starks, there is now nothing to deter Balon from declaring himself King of the Iron Islands.

The Rise of the Kraken

Ironborn campaign: in black: the ironmen forces.In blue: Stark loyalists. In Red: Bolton forces. 1.Moat Cailin. 2.Deepwood Motte. 3.Stony Shore 4.Fight at Torrhen's Square 5.Capture of Winterfell 6.Winter town 7.Sack of Winterfell 8.Capture of Torrhen's Square

Having set his sights on the north, King Balon Greyjoy plans three main strikes for his initial invasion. He sends his brother Victarion with the Iron Fleet to seize Moat Cailin, which has protected the north from southern invasion for thousands of years, in order to cut off the northmen from their lands. He sends his daughter and preferred heir Asha Greyjoy with a dozen ships to take Deepwood Motte. His recently-returned son Theon he sends to raid the Stony Shore as a distraction for his main strikes. With these moves, Balon believes the whole western coast of the north will fall into ironborn hands.

  • Fall of Moat Cailin. Victarion Greyjoy leads the entire Iron Fleet of a hundred ships up the Saltspear to attack the 400 men King Robb left to defend Moat Cailin. By attacking from the north, Victarion is able to bypass the natural defenses of the fortress and easily defeat the northmen. By capturing Moat Cailin, the Greyjoys control the route home for the Stark host, stranding Robb in the riverlands and allowing Balon to execute the rest of his plan.
  • Harrying of the Stony Shore. Theon Greyjoy, under the supervision of Aeron Greyjoy and Dagmer Cleftjaw, leads eight ships along the Stony Shore to burn fishing villages and take salt wives. These raids prompt young Benfred Tallhart to lead his “Wild Hares” against them. Theon ambushes this band and kills them all, losing only Todric, whom Theon accidentally kills after the battle. Theon feels these insignificant raids are beneath him and devises a new plan. He gives Aeron six longships to continue the raiding and gives Dagmer most of the remaining men to besiege Torrhen's Square. Theon knows that this attack will draw the levies from Winterfell so that he himself can capture the defenseless castle with only a handful of men.
  • Fight at Torrhen's Square. On Theon's orders, Dagmer Cleftjaw besieges the small keep of Torrhen's Square in a ruse to draw out Ser Rodrik Cassel and the household guard of Winterfell. As planned, Leobald Tallhart requests aid and Rodrik arrives as planned with 600 men, as does Cley Cerwyn with another 300. Rodrik has the advantage of familiar ground and the ironborn are not disciplined enough to stand a charge by mounted horsemen. Dagmer and his ironmen are easily defeated and driven back to the Stony Shore.
  • Capture of Winterfell. With the garrison absent, Theon storms Winterfell at night with about thirty men, overwhelming the few remaining guards and conquering the mighty castle with ease. After convincing the young Prince Bran Stark to yield, Theon declares himself the Prince of Winterfell and takes Ramsay Snow, disguised as "Reek,” as a retainer. Bran and Rickon Stark, Little Walder and Big Walder Frey, Meera and Jojen Reed, and Beth Cassel are all kept as hostages. However, the Starks and the Reeds soon escape. To avoid embarrassment, Ramsay convinces Theon to kill two peasant boys in place of the Starks and announce to the world that they are dead.
  • Battle at Winterfell and sack of Winterfell. Theon Greyjoy’s occupation of Winterfell hinges on his sister arriving with reinforcements from Deepwood Motte. However, Asha fails to bring the requested men. Instead, she berates Theon for attempting to hold a castle so far from resupply by sea and for killing Bran and Rickon Stark rather than keeping them as hostages. Then she urges him to burn the castle and return to Deepwood with her, but Theon refuses. Ser Rodrik Cassel returns from Torrhen's Square to besiege Winterfell with 2,000 men. Despite having only 17 men, Theon delays the attack by threatening Rodrik's daughter Beth until Ramsay Snow returns with 600 Bolton men from the Dreadfort. Believing them to be allies, Ser Rodrik and his men are taken completely by surprise when they are attacked in the winter town. Rodrik, Cley Cerwyn, and Leobald Tallhart are killed and their leaderless host is routed by the Bolton men, who lose only 20 or 30 men. Believing "Reek's" men to be allies, Theon allows Ramsay's men into Winterfell, where they quickly turn on the ironmen as well, killing them all except Theon. The castle is then put to the torch and many inhabitants are killed, including Maester Luwin. Theon, Little Walder, Big Walder, Kyra, Old Nan, and Beth Cassel are all taken back to the Dreadfort as captives.
  • Capture of Torrhen's Square. Dagmer Cleftjaw returns to Torrhen's Square. The sparsely defended keep is easily stormed by the ironmen, who take the Tallhart household captive.

The Clash of Kings

In Blue: Stannis and allies. In Red: Lannisters and allies. In green: Renly and allies. 1.Siege of Storm's End. 2.Battle at Bitterbridge. 3.Battle of the Fords 4.Battle of the Blackwater

In the riverlands there is a short lull in the fighting after the Battle of the Camps. Lord Tywin Lannister is content to wait at Harrenhal, providing for his forces by pillaging the riverlands while Ser Stafford Lannister raises a new army near Lannisport. Robb Stark does not have the luxury of waiting. He knows that the longer he sits in Riverrun, the more time his enemies have to gather their forces and surround him. He also knows that he will be perceived as weak and that his army will begin wishing for home the longer he avoids battle. However, Robb also knows that many still misjudge him as an immature boy. To mislead his enemies, Robb sends Ser Cleos Frey to King's Landing to offer peace terms, but then immediately invades the westerlands with his northmen.

  • Battle of Oxcross. Marching west with his northmen, Robb bypasses the Golden Tooth using a secret mountain path discovered by his direwolf, Grey Wind. He surprises Stafford Lannister's newly-raised host near Lannisport when they neglect to post enough sentries. The easy victory devastates Lannister power in the region and allows Robb to ride at will through the westerlands. Stafford is killed by vengeful Lord Rickard Karstark, who lost two sons in the Whispering Wood; Rupert Brax is also killed and several Lannister bannermen are captured. On the Stark side, Ser Stevron Frey is wounded and dies three days later. Rymund the Rhymer commemorates Robb’s victory with the song “Wolf in the Night”.
  • Siege of Storm's End. King Stannis arrives in the stormlands with his 5,000 men and lays siege to Storm's End, the seat of his younger brother, King Renly. When the news reaches his camp at Bitterbridge, Renly splits his forces and rides with his 20,000 cavalry to break the siege. After a failed parlay in which neither brother will yield, the battle is set at dawn. However, that night Renly is killed by a shadow assassin summoned by the red priestess Melisandre. With Renly dead, the majority of the Baratheon bannermen swear allegiance to Stannis. House Florent and both branches of House Fossoway also defect to Stannis, but the majority of the lords of the Reach flee with Renly's lover Ser Loras Tyrell back to Bitterbridge. Additionally, Storm's End's castellan, Ser Cortnay Penrose, refuses to yield the castle to Stannis because the safety of King Robert’s bastard Edric Storm cannot be assured. To end the siege quickly, Ser Davos Seaworth smuggles Melisandre under the castle by boat, where she summons another shadow to assassinate Cortnay. After Cortnay's death, the castle yields, leaving Stannis free to advance on King's Landing.
  • Bitterbridge. When news of Renly's death reaches the remaining 80,000 men still camped at Bitterbridge, fighting breaks out between Stannis supporters and Renly loyalists led by the vengeful Loras Tyrell. Parmen Crane and Erren Florent—the two knights sent to retrieve the army for Stannis—are taken prisoner by Loras while Lord Randyll Tarly seizes the supplies and puts many men, mostly Florents, to death. Although many men return to their homes and others flee to join Stannis, Lord Mace Tyrell brings up his second host of 10,000 men from Highgarden. Soon after, Petyr Baelish, representing King Joffrey I, wins the allegiance of House Tyrell. Riders are sent north to warn Lord Tywin of Stannis's threat to the capital.
  • Battle of the Fords. Intent on defending his lands from King Robb Stark, Lord Tywin marches west from Harrenhal with his 20,000 men. This fits perfectly with Robb's plan to lure Lord Tywin away from King's Landing while King Stannis attacks the city from the south. Stannis's victory would mean the end of King Joffrey I, Queen Cersei, and acting Hand Tyrion Lannister in one red stroke. Unaware of this plan, Ser Edmure Tully does not wish the Lannisters to cross the Trident unbloodied and places an army of 11,000 men at the key fords along the Red Fork. After several probing attacks, Lord Tywin attempts to force a crossing in a dozen places. The most heated battle is at Stone Mill where Edmure turns back Gregor Clegane's men. Clegane is wounded by a dozen arrows and Leo Lefford drowns. The other Lannister attacks are also defeated, during which Robert Brax is killed and Lyle Crakehall is captured. Unable to cross the river, Tywin is forced to retreat.
  • The Lannister-Tyrell alliance. The Battle of the Fords has great influence on the outcome of the war. Edmure Tully's tactical victory soon proves to be a huge strategic loss. Lord Tywin's advance is delayed just long enough for riders out of Bitterbridge to reach him with word of Stannis's threat to King’s Landing. Tywin immediately turns his host south to join up with Lords Mathis Rowan and Randyll Tarly near the headwaters of the Blackwater Rush. From there a forced march takes them to Tumbler's Falls, where Lord Mace Tyrell and his sons wait with their huge host and a fleet of barges. Together, the Lannisters and Tyrells float down the river to disembark half a day’s ride from the capital.
  • Fall of Harrenhal. Having advanced to the crossroads inn along with Helman Tallhart’s garrison from the Twins, Roose Bolton advances on Harrenhal. With Lord Tywin on the march, Harrenhal is held by only 200 men under Ser Amory Lorch. At the ruby ford, Vargo Hoat and his Brave Companions reportedly battle Bolton’s vanguard and capture Robett Glover, Ser Aenys Frey, and 100 other prisoners. However, when these prisoners reach Harrenhal they are quickly freed by Arya Stark with the help of the criminals Jaqen H'ghar, Rorge, and Biter. As they are being freed, Glover mentions Vargo Hoat coming to Bolton's camp, suggesting that rather than capture the prisoners, Hoat took 100 men disguised as prisoners to help him capture Harrenhal for Roose Bolton. As the prisoners are being freed, the Brave Companions turn on Lorch's men and surrender the castle to Bolton. Lorch is killed for sport in a bear pit soon after and Hoat is rewarded with the lordship of Harrenhal for his betrayal.
  • Storming of the Crag. Back in the westerlands, Robb assaults the half-ruined castle of the Crag and conquers it with ease. During the battle, Robb takes a wound in the arm. During his recovery, news arrives of Theon's supposed murder of his brothers and Robb finds comfort in the arms of Jeyne Westerling, the daughter of Lord Gawen Westerling of the Crag. Choosing Jeyne's honor over his own, Robb marries the girl the next day, breaking his betrothal pact with House Frey. Consequently, the Frey forces abandon Robb and return to the Twins in protest. Having lost his Frey allies, his castle, his brothers, and part of his homeland, Robb abandons his westerlands campaign and retreats to Riverrun with the intention of returning north to drive out the ironmen.
  • Battle of the Blackwater. In preparation for the coming siege of King's Landing, Cersei Lannister arranges for the production of vast amounts of wildfire and Tyrion Lannister commissions a great chain boom across the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. The battle opens when Stannis's admiral, Ser Imry Florent, leads his fleet up the river to engage Joffrey's. However, Tyrion has ordered several ships to be filled with wildfire. The resultant firestorm sets the river afire and destroys nearly every ship in both royal fleets, which cannot escape because the great chain has been raised behind them. Despite this, many of Stannis's troops are able to cross the river on the remaining ships or across a bridge of burning wreckage caught on the chain. A desperate sortie commanded by Tyrion fails and Stannis is on the verge of taking the city when his forces are taken from behind and smashed by the combined Lannister-Tyrell army led by Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell. To sow confusion and terror amongst Stannis's men, Ser Garlan Tyrell wears Renly Baratheon's distinctive green armor and antlered helm, which leads many to mistake him for Renly's ghost. Although Stannis himself is able to escape to Dragonstone, the majority of his army is destroyed.

In the aftermath of the Battle of the Blackwater, hundreds of new knights are made and several new lords are created to replace those killed in the battle. All those who fought for Stannis and do not repent are attainted and their lands are given to men loyal to the Iron Throne. In this way, the Lannisters and Tyrells take control of the stormlands with the exception of Storm's End, which holds out for Stannis.

The Lannister-Tyrell alliance is formalized by the betrothal of King Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell, the widow of King Renly Baratheon. As reward for his part in brokering the alliance, Petyr Baelish is promoted to the lordship of Harrenhal and declared Lord Paramount of the Trident.

The War Winds Down

The Battle of the Blackwater proves to be the deciding battle of the war. King Stannis Baratheon no longer has the strength to press his claim while King Joffrey I Baratheon's power is cemented by the new Lannister-Tyrell alliance. In addition, Tyrion Lannister, acting Hand of the King, has bound Dorne to Joffrey's cause by betrothing Princess Myrcella to Trystane Martell. This brings nearly all Westeros south of the riverlands under the control of the Lannisters and their allies.

Meanwhile, despite never losing a battle himself, King Robb Stark's cause is faltering. A large part of Robb's northern homeland and his own castle of Winterfell have fallen to the ironmen of King Balon Greyjoy. In addition, Robb's ill-advised marriage to Jeyne Westerling and his mother Catelyn's insubordinate release of Jaime Lannister lose him the support of Houses Frey and Karstark. To restore his power, Robb is forced to return north and risk an assault on Moat Cailin to free his homeland, but once again the cooperation of Lord Walder Frey is essential to his plan.

  • Siege of Darry. Ser Helman Tallhart retakes Darry from the Lannister army, which surrenders after a brief siege. A short time later, Lord Roose Bolton sends a letter ordering Helman to put all captives to the sword and the castle to the torch by command of the King in the North, Robb.
  • The beheading of Rickard Karstark. Upon Robb's return to Riverrun, he pardons his mother Lady Catelyn for releasing Jaime Lannister. Angered and emboldened by this decision, Lord Rickard Karstark takes his revenge on the Lannisters by murdering the captive squires Willem Lannister and Tion Frey. As punishment, Robb orders the perpetrators executed and beheads Lord Rickard himself. This action deprives Robb of even more sorely-needed troops when his Karstark troops abandon him.
  • The death of Balon Greyjoy. During a fierce storm at Pyke, King Balon Greyjoy falls from one of the rope bridges that connect the towers of his castle. His body washes up two days later, bloated and broken. Within hours, Balon’s exiled brother Euron Crow's Eye sails into Lordsport and seats himself on the Seastone Chair. When Lord Sawane Botley protests, Euron has him drowned in a cask of seawater.
  • Fighting at the fords of the Trident. As part of Robb's plan to retake the north, Roose Bolton abandons Harrenhal and marches his forces slowly north, allowing Gregor Clegane to catch up to him. As the northmen are crossing the ruby ford, Clegane overruns their rearguard, where Bolton has placed northmen under Ser Wylis Manderly. Clegane wins an easy victory and captures Manderly. Bolton leaves 600 loyal northmen led by Kyle Condon and Ronnel Stout to defend the ford.
  • Capture of Harrenhal. After the victory at the ruby ford, Gregor Clegane and his men double back to retake Harrenhal, which Roose Bolton has left in the hands of Vargo Hoat and the Brave Companions. However, by the time they arrive, Hoat has been driven mad by an infected wound and nearly all the Brave Companions have abandoned the indefensible ruin and scattered. A cook opens a postern gate for Clegane's men, who put most inhabitants of the castle to the sword. Vargo is slowly butchered alive and fed to himself and the other prisoners as “roast goat.”
  • Oldstones. Lord Walder Frey agrees to reconcile with Robb on the condition that Robb apologize in person and that Lord Edmure Tully marry his daughter Roslin in place of Robb. Robb moves north with the 3,500 men who have followed him since the Whispering Wood, leaving Ser Brynden Tully and the river lords to defend the Trident. When Jason Mallister meets him at Oldstones with word of King Balon's death, Robb’s hopes for victory increase. He dispatches Lady Maege Mormont and Galbart Glover to find Howland Reed to aid in the retaking of the north. Knowing the danger he is to face at Moat Cailin, Robb makes out a will that, according to a semi-canon source,[3] declares his bastard brother Jon Snow his heir to prevent the Lannisters claiming the north through his sister Sansa, who has been forcibly married to Tyrion Lannister.
  • The Red Wedding. At the Twins, Robb is joined by Roose Bolton and his remaining men. Edmure Tully weds Roslin Frey and all seems to be well, but in the midst of the wedding feast Robb is betrayed by the Freys and Boltons. Robb, his mother Catelyn, his direwolf Grey Wind, and most of his loyal bannermen are murdered along with most of his army, who are trapped in burning feast tents. Edmure Tully, Patrek Mallister, and Greatjon Umber are among those taken captive. In mockery of Robb, the Freys sew Grey Wind's head to his decapitated body and nail a crown to it. Catelyn Stark's mutilated body is stripped naked and tossed into the river in mockery of Tully funeral rituals.

The Red Wedding was orchestrated by Tywin Lannister and planned by Lothar Frey and Roose Bolton. For his part Roose is appointed Warden of the North by King Joffrey. To cement his position, Roose's bastard son Ramsay Snow is legitimized and betrothed to an imposter forced to pose as Arya Stark. Walder Frey is rewarded with several satisfying marriage pacts and the castle of Riverrun for his second son Emmon (who is married to Tywin's sister Genna), but the title of Lord Paramount of the Trident remains with Lord Petyr Baelish of Harrenhal.

The Feasting Crows

With three of the five kings dead and Stannis Baratheon soundly defeated, nearly all of Westeros submits to King Joffrey I. Houses Tully, Mallister, and Blackwood hold out for a time in the riverlands but no longer pose a serious threat. Likewise, Stannis remains in possession of Dragonstone and Storm's End but lacks the strength for open war.

For a time, the important events of the war move from the battlefields to the Red Keep itself. The Lannister victory seems secure, but the crucial relationship between the Lannisters and the Tyrells quickly begins to fray. Several sudden deaths further upset the balance of power. Meanwhile, new conflicts arise from the ashes of the war. Stannis Baratheon and Roose Bolton both arrive in the north to carve out new power bases in the vacuum left by the downfall of House Stark, and Euron Greyjoy embarks upon an even more ambitious conquest than his brother Balon.

  • The Purple Wedding. On the first day of the new century, King Joffrey I Baratheon weds Lady Margaery Tyrell of Highgarden in a lavish affair. Following the ceremony there is a great feast in the throne room of the Red Keep that features a pious seventy-seven courses. Extravagant entertainment is provided throughout, but when Joffrey insists that his uncle Tyrion Lannister join a folly of jousting dwarfs, an argument breaks out. To punish his uncle, Joffrey makes him his cupbearer. Soon after, the young king drinks poisoned wine and collapses, causing chaos to descend on the feast. After Joffrey's death is confirmed, Cersei Lannister orders the arrest of Tyrion and his wife Sansa Stark, though in truth the poison was supplied by Petyr Baelish via Dontos Hollard and administered by Olenna Tyrell.
  • Trial of Tyrion Lannister. The night of Joffrey’s death, Sansa Stark disappears without a trace to join Petyr Baelish in the Vale of Arryn, leaving only Tyrion to stand trial for Joffrey's murder. A seemingly endless parade of witnesses comes forward to testify against him, including his own mistress, Shae. Facing sure conviction, Tyrion insists on a trial by battle with Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne as his champion. Oberyn, known as “the Red Viper,” seeks vengeance against the royal champion Gregor Clegane for the murder of his sister Princess Elia, who was the wife of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, during the Sack of King's Landing. The duel is a close one, but in the end Oberyn is killed and Tyrion is condemned to death.
  • Death of Tywin Lannister. Unwilling to see his brother executed, Jaime Lannister—who is newly returned to the capital—forces the spymaster Varys to assist him in freeing Tyrion. Jaime also reveals to Tyrion that his first wife, Tysha, was not a whore as he had been led to believe. In a rage, Tyrion swears vengeance against his family, Jaime included. Before departing, Tyrion pays a final visit to the Tower of the Hand. There he finds Shae naked in his father’s bed and murders her. Lord Tywin he finds in the privy. When Tyrion asks for Tysha’s whereabouts, Lord Tywin only replies, “Wherever whores go,” and Tyrion shoots him in the groin with a crossbow.
  • The Queen Regent. Following the deaths of King Joffrey and Lord Tywin, the young Prince Tommen Baratheon is crowned king with Cersei as Queen Regent. However, the very deaths which bring Cersei to power also drive her to paranoia. Her chief apprehension is that young Margaery Tyrell, who soon marries Tommen I, is seeking to usurp her authority and seize power. This distrust puts further strain on the crucial Lannister-Tyrell alliance. To ensure her power, Cersei fills the small council with lickspittles. When she offers her uncle, Ser Kevan Lannister, the position of Hand of the King she is surprised to find Kevan has serious doubts about her leadership and feels he should be Regent. Out of spite, Cersei appoints two Lannister cousins to positions that Kevan is better suited for; Daven is made Warden of the West and Damion is named castellan of Casterly Rock.
  • Siege of Seagard. After the Red Wedding, Black Walder Frey leads a host to besiege the defiant forces of Jason Mallister. The siege is quickly resolved when Black Walder threatens to hang Mallister’s heir Patrek, who was taken prisoner at the Twins. The Mallisters then become prisoners in their own keep.
  • Kingsmoot. In an attempt to unseat his brother King Euron from the Seastone Chair, the prophet Aeron Greyjoy preaches a kingsmoot election at Old Wyk as the proper way to raise the next king. Several Greyjoys put themselves forward as candidates including Euron, Victarion, and the late King Balon's daughter, Asha, along with members of other Houses such as Erik Ironmaker. Despite strong support for both Victarion and Asha, Euron wins the election with his vast wealth and a promise to conquer all of Westeros with the aid of dragons. Victarion, who has been trained for obedience all his life, grudgingly accepts the decision, but Aeron and Asha refuse and manage to slip away.
  • Siege of Moat Cailin. While Victarion is absent to attend the kingsmoot, the ironborn-occupied fortress of Moat Cailin is approached from the north by the army of the now-legitimized Ramsay Bolton and from the south by Roose Bolton. Ramsay sends Theon Greyjoy (whom he has brainwashed to be his faithful servant Reek) to offer terms of safe passage if the ironborn surrender. When they do surrender, Ramsay has all sixty-three flayed alive and impales their skinless bodies on pikes along the road.
  • Rebirth of the Faith Militant. In the aftermath of the War of the Five Kings, religious fervor in the Seven Kingdoms sees an increase. Many pilgrims and refugees, who call themselves “sparrows,” congregate at the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing. A sparrow leader is elected as the new High Septon and is called the High Sparrow. At his urging, Cersei Lannister allows the Faith of the Seven to rearm as repayment for the royal debt, leading to the rebirth of the Warrior's Sons and the Poor Fellows. Overnight, the militant orders make the Faith a formidable military power in the Seven Kingdoms. The Faith later imprisons Cersei Lannister and Margaery Tyrell for the alleged crimes of treason and adultery.
  • Fight by Deepwood Motte. Following the kingsmoot, Asha Greyjoy flees back to Deepwood Motte to escape her uncle, King Euron. She has not been there long when Stannis Baratheon's forces, bolstered by the mountain clans, attack in the dead of night and return it to House Glover. The Ironborn ships are meanwhile burnt by the forces of House Mormont. Several ironborn including Asha and Tristifer Botley escape the castle but are apprehended in the forest soon after.
  • Invasion of Ryamsport, Vinetown, and Starfish Harbor. Following the conquest of the Shield Islands, the ironborn sack the port town of Ryamsport and invade Vinetown and Starfish Harbor. These are then used as bases to prey on ships bound for Oldtown. One such ship is the Cinnamon Wind, which is carrying Samwell Tarly of the Night's Watch. Kojja Mo and her archers are easily able to drive them away, however. Various Priests are captured by Euron.
Stannis' northern campaign: In Blue: Stannis and allies. In Red: Boltons and allies. 1.Battle of Castle Black 2.Siege of Moat Cailin. 3.Joint march to Barrowton. 4.Fight by Deepwood Motte 5.March on Winterfell
  • Siege of Dragonstone. After hearing of the Battle of the Shields, Cersei Lannister refuses to release the Redwyne fleet to defend the Reach until the siege of Dragonstone is resolved. Desperate to aid his homeland, Ser Loras Tyrell pledges to take command of the siege in order to speed its conclusion. Upon his arrival, Loras launches an immediate attack. Suffering heavy losses, Loras successfully captures both the castle and the keep. Loras himself is reportedly severely wounded and burned with boiling oil during the battle.
  • Siege of Riverrun. Ser Brynden Tully holds the castle of Riverrun in defiance of a large host of Freys, Lannisters, and subjugated river lords. Edmure Tully is displayed daily on a gibbet by Ser Ryman Frey, but Brynden does not surrender and exposes the display as an empty threat. The besiegers bicker and make no progress until Jaime Lannister is sent to expedite the fall of the castle. Upon arriving, Jaime dismisses Ryman Frey and releases Edmure. However, Jaime takes the time to threaten that if Edmure does not yield Riverrun the castle will be obliterated and his unborn child killed. Edmure soon surrenders the castle, but not before aiding Ser Brynden in escaping capture. The castle is then left in the care of its new lord, Emmon Frey, with 300 guards.
  • Siege of Raventree. Having submitted to the Iron Throne, Lord Jonos Bracken is commanded to besiege the castle of his nemesis, Lord Tytos Blackwood, who remains defiant. Fighting is fierce at Raventree Hall and the Brackens are unable to capture it. Tytos Blackwood steadfastly refuses to surrender to Bracken, but agrees to surrender to Jaime Lannister. Jaime offers reasonable terms: Blackwood forfeits several lands to Bracken and gives up his son Hoster as a hostage. However, Jaime also takes a hostage from House Bracken. The surrender of Raventree marks the end of open war in the riverlands.


The War of the Five Kings results in vast devastation and death. The burning of crops and food supplies by rival armies means that with winter now engulfing Westeros as of 300 AC, many more will starve and die. The riverlands have borne the brunt of the fighting but the north, the westerlands, and the stormlands have been hit hard by the war as well. While the Reach did not suffer land hostilities, its resources have been used to supply the armies supported by House Tyrell and it is now suffering raiding and invasions by the ironborn. The only two regions to so far to stay out of the war and keep their armies and food supplies intact are the Vale of Arryn and Dorne.

According to Archmaester Benedict, the name of the conflict is incorrect because Renly Baratheon is slain before Balon Greyjoy crowns himself, so there are never technically five kings at once.[4]

New hostilities

War of the Five Kings (phase II)
Date 300 AC - ongoing
Location Westeros
Result Ongoing
1. The Boy King
2. The King at the Wall
3. The King of the Isles and the North
4. King Aegon VI
In Yellow: Forces of the Golden Company. 1.Arrival from Volantis and the Stepstones. 2.Invasion and conquest of several castles, including Griffin's Roost. 3. March on Storm's End
  • Assassination of Grand Maester Pycelle and Regent Kevan Lannister. Varys infiltrates the chambers of Grand Maester Pycelle and murders him. Afterward he has one of his "little birds" send for Regent Kevan Lannister and shoots him with a crossbow. Varys admits he seeks to further destabilize the realm after Cersei's poor rule and drive a wedge in the Lannister-Tyrell alliance to prepare the way for Aegon to take the Iron Throne. Varys' "little birds" then finish Kevan.


Renly Baratheon is nothing to me, nor Stannis neither. Why should they rule over me and mine from some flowery seat in Highgarden or Dorne? What do they know of the Wall or the wolfswood or the barrows of the First Men? Even their gods are wrong. The Others take the Lannisters too. I've had a bellyful of them. Why shouldn't we rule ourselves again? It was the dragons we married, and the dragons are all dead. There sits the only king I mean to bend my knee to, m'lords: The King in the North![5]

- Greatjon Umber proclaiming Robb Stark as his king

All sorts of people are calling themselves kings these days. [6]

- Tyrion Lannister

Robb: I can't release the Kingslayer, not even if I wanted to. My lords would never abide it.

Catelyn: Your lords made you their king.
Robb: And can unmake me just as easy.[2]

- Robb Stark to Catelyn Tully

I am the Greyjoy, Lord Reaper of Pyke, King of Salt and Rock, Son of the Sea Wind, and no man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price. I will take my crown, as Urron Redhand did five thousand years ago.[7]

- Balon Greyjoy to Theon Greyjoy

Why the oldest son, and not the best-fitted? The crown will suit me, as it never suited Robert and would not suit Stannis.[8]

- Renly Baratheon to Catelyn Tully

Gallant, yes, and charming, and very clean. He knew how to dress and he knew how to smile and he knew how to bathe, and somehow he got the notion that this made him fit to be king.[9]

- Olenna Tyrell's opinion of Renly Baratheon.

It is not a question of wanting. The throne is mine, as Robert's heir. That is law.[10]

- Stannis Baratheon to Davos Seaworth

Any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king at all.[11]

- Tywin Lannister to Joffrey Baratheon

One little dragon could end this great big war.[12]

- Salladhor Saan to Davos Seaworth

We had one king, then five. Now all I see are crows, squabbling over the corpse of Westeros.[13]

- Rodrik Harlaw to Asha Greyjoy

When Robb Stark took up arms against the bastard Joffrey-called-Baratheon, White Harbor marched with him. Lord Stark has fallen, but his war goes on.[14]

- Davos Seaworth to the Manderlys

References and Notes

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