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Unemblazoned white shield of the Kingsguard

The Kingsguard, also known poetically as the White Swords or White Cloaks, are the royal bodyguards of the Iron Throne. Supposedly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms, they are sworn to protect their king and the royal family with their own lives, to obey his commands, and to keep his secrets. They are sworn for life and are forbidden from owning land, taking a wife, or fathering children.[1]

Sigil of the Kingsguard

Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen in 129 AC to 130 AC and Queen Daenerys Targaryen since 300 AC have operated with a Queensguard, instead of a Kingsguard. For more information about the Queensguard and their members, see here.



The Kingsguard was founded by Aegon the Conqueror of House Targaryen as an elite bodyguard for those of royal blood. Historically composed of seven knights sworn to a lifetime of service, members are to serve unto death despite age or any physical or mental ailments, with an invalid member's duties being taken up by his sworn brothers.[2] During his time as a member of the Kingsguard, a member is not allowed to hold lands, sire children, marry, or have any worldly allegiance except to his monarch. Some of the greatest warriors, battle commanders, swordsmen, and famous historical figures in the history of Westeros have served in the Kingsguard, including members of House Targaryen itself. All members of the Kingsguard must be sworn knights.[3]

The first Kingsguard was actually created at the suggestion of Visenya Targaryen, after a Dornish assassination attempt on Aegon in the streets of King's Landing. She self-consciously modeled the Kingsguard vows of holding no lands or title on the ancient vows of the Night's Watch.[4]

The Kingsguard has continuously existed since the reign of Aegon I. Its uninterrupted history is recorded in the White Book, a volume maintained by the head of the Kingsguard, known as the Lord Commander, and stored in the Round Room of the White Sword Tower, a four-story tower built into one of the seaward walls of the Red Keep of King's Landing. In the White Book, officially known as The Book of Brothers, each member of the Kingsguard is given one page on which his personal history and a record of his deeds are written. Because of its status as the royal bodyguard and the many remarkable figures who have been members, the Kingsguard has been involved in many major historical events in Westeros.

Although the White Swords may not hold lands, certain titles may be retained or granted. Aemon Targaryen and Lewyn Martell continued to use the style of "prince", while Lord Commanders Ryam Redwyne and Criston Cole have also acted as Hand of the King. Ser Jaime Lannister for a time was also Warden of the East, and King Robert threatened to make him Hand as well (before he was Lord Commander). Finally, Eddard Stark speaks of Jaime being in line to inherit the title Warden of the West.[5]

After Robert's Rebellion, Robert Baratheon, the new king, chose to continue the tradition of the Kingsguard. He went as far as to elevate a member of Aerys II's Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy, to the position of Lord Commander. Selmy held that position until dismissed in an unprecedented move by Robert's heir, Joffrey I. After Selmy's dismissal, the last of the remaining knights from Aerys II's Kingsguard, Joffrey's uncle Ser Jaime Lannister, was appointed Lord Commander. Sandor Clegane was chosen to replace the departed Ser Barristan, becoming the first member not to have been a sworn knight.

Equipment and Duties

The Kingsguard wear all white cloaks, carry plain white shields and with some occasional exceptions wear little or no ornamentation or sigils on their white armor. This plain but striking attire lends credence to their role of being seen but not heard until their advice is asked. Discretion and wisdom are often as important skills as martial ability being as they are expected to be with their king or queen at all times, privy to all their secrets, plans, and every aspect of their personal lives.

The Kingsguard wear intricate suits of white enameled scales, their fastenings for breastplate and other pieces made of silver.[6][3] Jaime Lannister, standing vigil for his father, wears a long hauberk, its scales mother-of-pearl chased with gold.[7] They alone bear the right to carry a pure white unemblazoned shield.[8]

In order to protect the royal family night and day, the seven-man Kingsguard must rely to some degree on others. Prince Joffrey has his own sworn shield, Sandor Clegane, other knights are trusted with the king's security when the entire Kingsguard meets in White Sword Tower, and the queen may be guarded by soldiers from her own household (as Queen Cersei has Vylarr and his red cloaks).

One of the Kingsguard always stands guard outside the council chambers when the small council is in session,[9][10] and one is usually posted at the end of the bridge into Maegor's Holdfast.


The rite for making a new member of the White Swords can vary. In common there seems to be the fact that it is a solemn and formal event, in which the knight kneels as he makes his vows before the king, and he receives the white cloak of the Kingsguard from the Hand of the King or the Lord Commander himself.[11][12] The Lord Commander is always chosen by the king, with seniority and ability only playing parts in the decision.[13] Also the Lord Commander is generally chosen from the existing pool of the Kingsguard.

Historical Members

Lord Commanders

Unknown which King they served

Kingsguard during the reign of Aegon I Targaryen (10 AC-37 AC)

Kingsguard during the reign of Aenys I Targaryen (37 AC-42 AC)

Kingsguard during the reign of Jaehaerys I Targaryen (48 AC-103 AC)

  • Ser Ryam Redwyne, Lord Commander, thought to be one of the best knights and worst King's Hand that Westeros had ever seen.[17]
  • Ser Clement Crabb.[15][18]
  • Ser Lucamore Strong, he was called Lucamore the Lusty after it became known he secretly took three wives and fathered numerous children. For this, he was gelded by the rest of the Kingsguard and sent to the the Wall by Jaehaerys I.[14]

Kingsguard during the reign of Viserys I Targaryen (103 AC-129 AC)

Kingsguard during the Dance of the Dragons (129 AC-131 AC)

The reign of King Aegon II covered the war of succession known as the Dance of the Dragons. During this war, both the eldest living son of late King Viserys I, Prince Aegon, and the eldest living child of King Viserys I, the child he had proclaimed his heir, Princess Rhaenyra, were crowned.

Kingsguard of King Aegon II Targaryen

Kingsguard who sided with Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen and became part of her Queensguard

Kingsguard during the reign of King Daeron I Targaryen (157 AC-161 AC)

  • Prince Aemon Targaryen, Lord Commander, also known as the Dragonknight. Participated in the Conquest of Dorne. Became a captive of the Dornish after the Conquest was undone in the Dornish Rebellion in 161 AC.
  • Ser Olyvar Oakheart, the Green Oak. Participated in the Conquest of Dorne. Died beside King Daeron I in Dorne[21]

Kingsguard during the reign of King Baelor I Targaryen (161 AC-171 AC)

Kingsguard during the reign of King Viserys II Targaryen (171 AC-172 AC)

Kingsguard during the reign of King Aegon IV Targaryen (172 AC-184 AC)

  • Prince Aemon Targaryen, Lord Commander, also known as the Dragonknight. Killed defending his brother King Aegon IV from an assassination attempt by two brothers of House Toyne.
  • Ser Terrence Toyne, executed for having an affair with one of the mistresses of King Aegon IV Targaryen.[14] His execution led to a failed assassination attempt by his two brothers resulting in the death of Prince Aemon.

Kingsguard during the reign of King Daeron II Targaryen (184 AC-209 AC)

Kingsguard during the reign of King Aerys I Targaryen (209 AC-221 AC)

Kingsguard during the reign of King Aegon V Targaryen (233 AC-259 AC)

Kingsguard during the reign of King Jaehaerys II Targaryen (259 AC-262 AC)

Kingsguard during the reign of King Aerys II Targaryen (262 AC-283 AC)

Recent Members

Kingsguard during the reign of King Robert I Baratheon (283 AC-298 AC)

Left to right inorder: Jaime Lannister, Preston Greenfield, Mandon Moore, Barristan Selmy, Meryn Trant, Boros Blount and Arys Oakheart

After the War, King Robert was left in the position of having to fill five vacancies in the Kingsguard. This, along with the blatantly political appointments made by his wife, Queen Cersei Lannister, lead many to regard the present as a low point in the Kingsguard's history. The continued inclusion of Jaime Lannister despite his betrayal of Aerys II was poorly received by many outside of the Lannister inner circle.

A paper shield. [8]

Varys, on King Robert's Kingsguard

Of these seven, only Ser Barristan Selmy is made of the true steel.[8]

- Varys, on King Robert's Kingsguard

Kingsguard during the reign of King Joffrey I Baratheon (298 AC-300 AC)

Kingsguard Under Joffrey I

The Kingsguard entered an even more controversial time after the death of King Robert Baratheon. His heir, Joffrey, dismissed Lord Commander Selmy, something never before done in the history of the Kingsguard. This time period also saw the appointment of an unanointed knight and brutal House Lannister retainer, Sandor Clegane. These changes in the Kingsguard including the appointment of Lannister loyalists and Loras Tyrell of House Tyrell, Lannister allies in the War of the Five Kings, can be viewed as attempts to make political appointments in order to solidify Lannister power on the throne.

Kingsguard during the reign of King Tommen I Baratheon (300 AC)

Kingsguard of claimants to the Iron Throne

Kingsguard of Aegon VI (300 AC)

Upon landing in Westeros with the Golden Company, Aegon named his friend Rolly the first of his new Kingsguard.[22] Lord Jon Connington did not approve of the choice and asked Aegon to leave the other six slots open for knights of renown and sons of great Lords which would add luster to their cause.

  • Lord Commander {open}
  • Ser Rolly Duckfield.
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See also

Quotes about the Kingsguard

The Kingsguard does not flee.[23]

– Ser Gerold Hightower, The White Bull

Old Nan said they were the finest swords in all the realm. There were only seven of them, and they wore white armor and had no wives or children, but lived only to serve the king. Bran knew all their stories. Their names were like music to him.[24]

Bran Stark's reflections on the Kingsguard

Our knees do not bend easily.[23]

– Ser Arthur Dayne, regarding the Kingsguard

Once a man puts on that cloak, it changes him.[25]

– Ser Jaime Lannister

Bran: Are they truly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms? Ned: No longer. But once they were a marvel, a shining lesson to the world.[26]

Eddard Stark to Bran Stark

It is a rare and precious gift to be a knight, and even more so a knight of the Kingsguard. It is a gift given to few, a gift you scorned and sullied.[27]

Brienne of Tarth to Ser Jaime Lannister

Osmund has become especially unreliable since he joined the Kingsguard. That white cloak does things to a man, I find. Even a man like him.[28]

Petyr Baelish

He wondered what Ser Arthur Dayne would have to say of this lot. "How is it that the Kingsguard have fallen so low," most like. "It was my doing", I would have to answer. "I opened the door, and did nothing when the vermin began to crawl inside." [29]

– Ser Jaime Lannister's thoughts on the present Kingsguard

References and Notes

  1. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  2. So Spake Martin. The Kingsguard (May 22, 1999)
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  4. The World of Ice & Fire.
  5. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  6. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
  7. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
  9. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
  10. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  11. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
  12. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
  13. So Spake Martin Archon Meeting (October 5, 2001)
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 The World of Ice & Fire, Aegon I.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 The Rogue Prince.
  18. The World of Ice & Fire, Jaehaerys I.
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 The Princess and the Queen.
  20. The World of Ice & Fire, Aegon III.
  21. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  22. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
  23. 23.0 23.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
  24. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8, Bran II.
  25. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 12, Cersei III.
  26. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 21, Bran III.
  27. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
  28. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
  29. A Feast for Crows, Bad reference param2.

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