War of the Ninepenny Kings

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War of the Ninepenny Kings
Part of the Blackfyre Rebellions
Ser Barristan Selmy and Maelys the Monstrous locked in combat, as depicted by José Daniel Cabrera Peña
in The World of Ice & Fire

Date 260 AC
Location Stepstones, Free Cities
Result Band of Nine fall from power
End of the Blackfyre male line
House Targaryen.svg Iron Throne/
House Targaryen
Band of Nine
Notable commanders
House Baratheon.svg Lord Ormund Baratheon
Kingsguard.svg Ser Gerold Hightower
House Greyjoy.svg Lord Quellon Greyjoy
House Lannister.svg Ser Jason Lannister
House Reyne.svg Lord Roger Reyne
House Blackfyre 2.svg King Maelys I Blackfyre
Ser Derrick Fossoway
Prince Alequo Adarys
Nine Eyes
Spotted Tom
Liomond Lashare
Xhobar Qhoqua
Samarro Saan
The Old Mother
Iron Islands:
  • 100 longships[1]


  • 1,000 knights[2]
  • 10,000 men-at-arms[2]
Lord Ormund Baratheon
Ser Jason Lannister
King Maelys I Blackfyre

The War of the Ninepenny Kings was a conflict between the Band of Nine, a group of merchants, mercenaries and pirates from the Free Cities, and the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. After the Band of Nine had successfully conquered the Stepstones, King Jaehaerys II Targaryen, aware of the fact that the Band of Nine were set on conquering the Seven Kingdoms for the last remaining Blackfyre Pretender, Maelys I Blackfyre, dispatched an army to the Stepstones to defeat the enemies of the Iron Throne.[3][4]

Although it is not called so in the books, this conflict has often been referred to as the Fifth Blackfyre Rebellion by the fandom since Maelys was the fifth Blackfyre Pretender.[4]


Late during the reign of King Aegon V Targaryen, in 258 AC, news reached King's Landing that the so-called Band of Nine, a group of ambitious power-seekers in Essos, had come together under the Tree of Crowns where they had vowed to aid one another in carving out kingdoms for each individual member. Among them was Maelys I Blackfyre, better known as Maelys the Monstrous, the last of the Blackfyre Pretenders, who had won the command of the Golden Company by killing his cousin Daemon a few years before. His desired kingdom, as Daemon I Blackfyre's last descendant, was the Seven Kingdoms.[5]

When told of these events, Prince Duncan Targaryen famously quipped that "crowns were being sold nine a penny", and afterwards the Band of Nine became known in the Seven Kingdoms as the Ninepenny Kings.[5] Most men, including King Aegon V and later King Jaehaerys II Targaryen, thought that the threat posed by these pretenders would be countered by the might of the Free Cities, or otherwise founder in Essos.[5][4] Nonetheless, preparations were made to make sure the Blackfyres could not land on Westerosi soil.[5]

The Band of Nine their goals met with initial success, conquering the Disputed Lands and securing the Free City of Tyrosh, setting up Alequo Adarys, the Silvertongue, as its ruler. Second, they conquered the Stepstones. From there, they stood ready to threaten the Seven Kingdoms.[4]


King Jaehaerys II Targaryen, who had succeeded his father upon the Iron Throne in 259 AC, recognized the threat the Band of Nine posed and sent a large force to the Stepstones, bringing the war to the Band of Nine. The king wished to personally take command of his forces but was persuaded otherwise by his Hand, Lord Ormund Baratheon. Lord Ormund took command of the Targaryen army instead.[4] The task force included a fleet of one hundred longships led by Quellon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands,[1] and a force of a thousand knights and ten thousand men-at-arms sent by Lord Tytos Lannister from the westerlands,[2] under the leadership of his younger brother, Ser Jason Lannister.[6] House Martell sent spears from Dorne.[7]

When the Targaryen host landed upon the Stepstones in 260 AC, the fighting began in earnest on land and sea and lasted for most of the year.[4][1] Lord Ormund was one of the first casualties of the war, dying in the arms of his young son, Ser Steffon.[4] Command then passed to Gerold Hightower, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.[4] After Ser Jason Lannister was killed on Bloodstone, Lord Roger Reyne led the remaining westermen to several victories.[2]

Many young knights and lords distinguished themselves in battle, including Steffon Baratheon, Brynden Tully, Tywin Lannister and his brother Kevan, and Aerys Targaryen.[8] The great-uncle of Lord Willam Dustin participated in the war,[9] as did Meribald and his brothers.[10] Goodwin's friend, a promising young champion, was slain in the war.[11] In the end it was the young Barristan Selmy who cut a bloody path though the Golden Company's ranks to slay Maelys the Monstrous in single combat, thereby ending the threat to the Seven Kingdoms.[12][13]


It took another six years before the Band of Nine's holdings in Essos were lost. Alequo Adarys was eventually poisoned by his queen and the Archon returned to power in Tyrosh.[4]

With Ormund slain, Steffon Baratheon became the new Lord of Storm's End. He remained close friends with both Prince Aerys Targaryen and Ser Tywin Lannister. Tywin, himself a new-made knight, received the honor of giving Prince Aerys his spurs, after fighting gallantly in the war.[8] Tywin became bitter and hardened, particularly against his ineffectual father Tytos, who had not taken part in the war, rather remaining at home with his mistress. These tensions soon erupted in the Reyne-Tarbeck revolt in 261 AC.[2]

Lord Hoster Tully became acquainted with Lord Baelish during the war, where they fought side by side. Lord Baelish did a service for Hoster, which was later repayed when Hoster accepted to take Baelish's son, Petyr, as a ward in Riverrun.[14][15] Jon Arryn also became acquainted with Lord Rickard Stark of Winterfell and Lord Steffon Baratheon of Storm's End, which resulted several years later in Jon taking their sons, Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon, as his wards at the Eyrie.[16]

The Blackfyres were extinguished in the male line thanks to Ser Barristan Selmy. When the next opening presented itself, Barristan was named to the Kingsguard,[17] an opening he accepted despite being heir to Harvest Hall and being betrothed.[18]

The war is described in Account of the War of the Ninepenny Kings by Eon and Observations Upon the Recent Blood-Letting on the Stepstones by Pycelle. According to Septon Meribald, who participated in the war, many of the smallfolk who fought in the war became broken men.[10]


Hyle: The War of the Ninepenny Kings?
Meribald: So they called it, though I never saw a king, nor earned a penny. It was a war, though. That it was.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Old Way and the New.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands: House Lannister Under the Dragons.
  3. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jaehaerys II Targaryen.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys II.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
  6. The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands (unabridged)
  7. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Dorne Against the Dragons.
  8. 8.0 8.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  9. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 41, The Turncloak.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 25, Brienne V.
  11. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 55, The Queensguard.
  13. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
  14. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Petyr Baelish.
  15. So Spake Martin: US Signing Tour (Half Moon Bay, CA) (November 18, 2005)
  16. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jon Arryn.
  17. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.