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Tourney at Harrenhal

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The tourney at Harrenhal as depicted by Paolo Puggioni in The World of Ice and Fire

The tourney at Harrenhal,[1] also known as Lord Whent's great tournament,[2] was held in 281 AC, the year of the false spring,[3] at Harrenhal in the riverlands. It was hosted by Lord Walter Whent to celebrate the name day of his maiden daughter.[4] Spread over ten days,[5] it was the greatest tourney of its time.



The tourney was announced in 280 AC by Lord Walter Whent shortly after he was visited by his brother, Ser Oswell Whent of the Kingsguard. The rewards offered by Walter were three times greater than those offered by Lord Tywin Lannister in the tourney in honor of Prince Viserys's birth at Lannisport in 276 AC.[6][N 1] The lavish prizes offered by Lord Whent brought hundreds of challengers to the tourney.[7] Walter also wanted to present his massive castle and his fine sons.[3]

While most believed House Whent was displaying their wealth and splendor, some believed the Whents lacked the funding for the prizes and were instead supported by a "shadow host"; Maester Yandel suggests Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.[2] King Aerys II Targaryen attended the tournament only because Varys warned him that his son Rhaegar arranged the tournament as a pretext to meet with several high lords to discuss removing his father as king in an informal Great Council.[8] Many in attendance were shocked by the king's physical decline.[2]

During the tourney's opening ceremonies, fifteen-year-old Ser Jaime Lannister was admitted into the order of the Kingsguard. Although Jaime wanted to compete in the tourney the next day, King Aerys commanded him to return to King's Landing that night to guard Queen Rhaella and Prince Viserys.[9] Also that first night was a great feast within Harrenhal for lords from throughout the realm.[10]


The tourney took place over ten days,[5] of which the competition lasted seven days,[2] with five days allotted to the joust.[10] There was a seven-sided melee in the ancient style,[5][10] in which Lord Robert Baratheon unhorsed many.[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.[10] There was also a mummer show.[7]

Lord Walter Whent's fair daughter was the queen of love and beauty when the tourney began. Her honor was defended by her brothers and her uncle, Ser Oswell Whent of the Kingsguard, but they were all defeated in the tourney.[10]

A mystery knight, the "Knight of the Laughing Tree", appeared in the lists to fight for the honour of a crannogman.[10] King Aerys sent men to learn the identity of the mystery knight, who appeared and disappeared mid tourney, but they were unsuccessful.[2]

Rhaegar Targaryen was champion of the joust, defeating four knights of the Kingsguard,[2] and in the end he chose Lyanna Stark as the new 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 Robert Baratheon.[1][10] Rhaegar's indiscretion culminated in his abduction of Lyanna a year later, which touched off Robert's Rebellion, which brought an end to Targaryen rule.

The Joust

Rhaegar crowning Lyanna by M.Luisa Giliberti©

There were five days of jousting.[10]

House TargaryenChampion: Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.

Arms unknownHouse WhentUnknown jousters defeated the four sons of Lord Walter Whent of Harrenhal
Laughing Tree COA.pngHouse HaighThe Knight of the Laughing Tree defeated a member of House Haigh
Laughing Tree COA.pngHouse BlountThe Knight of the Laughing Tree defeated a member of House Blount
Laughing Tree COA.pngHouse 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 TargaryenKingsguardPrince Rhaegar Targaryen defeated Ser Arthur Dayne
House TargaryenKingsguardPrince Rhaegar Targaryen defeated Ser Barristan Selmy (final tilt)

Known Attendees

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Imprisoned 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.[1]

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.[3]

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.[7] Meera Reed tells Bran Stark the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree.[10]

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.[8]


Yet when the jousting began, the day belonged to Rhaegar Targaryen.[1]

- thoughts of Eddard Stark

Daenerys: But what tourneys did my brother win?
Arstan: Your Grace. He won the greatest tourney of them all ... The greatest lords and mightiest champions of the Seven Kingdoms rode in that tourney, and the Prince of Dragonstone bested them all.[7]

- Daenerys Targaryen and Arstan Whitebeard


  1. Erroneously stated to have been the "Lannisport tourney of 272 AC, hosted by Tywin in celebration of Aerys II's tenth year upon the Iron Throne" in The World of Ice and Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime IV.
  4. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 So Spake Martin: Tourney Rules (April 29, 1999)
  6. The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: Year of the False Spring.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
  9. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.