Criston Cole

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Criston Cole
Kingmaker by Naomimakesart.png
Art by Naomimakesart

Alias(es) Criston the Kingmaker
Title(s) Ser
Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
Hand of the King
Allegiance House Cole
Rhaenyra Targaryen (formerly)
Predecessor Harrold Westerling (Lord Commander of the Kingsguard)
Otto Hightower (Hand of the King)
Successor Willis Fell (Lord Commander of the Kingsguard)
Cregan Stark (Hand of the King)
Culture(s) Marcher
Born In 82 AC[1], at Blackhaven
Died In 130 AC[2], at the Butcher's Ball south of the Gods Eye
Lover(s) Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (rumored)[3]
Book(s) The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)
Fire & Blood (mentioned)
The Rogue Prince (mentioned)
The Princess and the Queen (mentioned)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)

Played by Fabien Frankel
TV series House of the Dragon: Season 1

Ser Criston Cole was a knight from House Cole. Made a member of King Viserys I Targaryen's Kingsguard, eventually rising to Lord Commander. Criston convinced Viserys's son, Aegon, to claim the rule of the Seven Kingdoms as his father lay dead. This led to the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war between Aegon II and his elder sister, Rhaenyra, whom Viserys had long groomed as his successor. For this he became known as Criston the Kingmaker.[4]

Appearance and Character

Criston had coal black hair and pale green eyes. Many ladies described him as charming. He was an exceptionally skilled warrior particularly with his morningstar.[3][5] He is also known to have wielded a longsword in battle.[6]


Early life

Ser Criston was born to a steward of Lord Dondarrion at Blackhaven, in the Dornish Marches. He won a melee at the tourney at Maidenpool to celebrate the ascension of Viserys I Targaryen, drawing the attention of the royal court by knocking Dark Sister from the hands of Prince Daemon Targaryen with his morningstar. He gave the victor's laurel to the seven-year-old Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, whose favor he wore while unhorsing Daemon in the joust, as well as the famed Cargyll twins of the Kingsguard, before being unhorsed by Lord Lymond Mallister. Thereafter, King Viserys indulged Rhaenyra by naming Criston her personal sworn shield. In 105 AC, the twenty-three-year-old Criston became a member of the Kingsguard, taking the place of the legendary Ser Ryam Redwyne.[3]

Cole wore Rhaenyra's favor in a tournament in 111 AC where he unhorsed Ser Gwayne Hightower, younger brother and champion to King Viserys's second wife and queen, Alicent Hightower.[2]

In 112 AC Ser Criston was still Rhaenyra's champion and constant companion. Lord Commander Ser Harrold Westerling died in that year, and Criston was named his successor to lead the White Cloaks. It was rumored that Cole had an affair with Rhaenyra in 113 AC.[4][3]

Septon Eustace says that Ser Criston slipped into Rhaenyra's bedchamber to confess his love, offering to abscond with her to one of the Free Cities where he would pledge his sword to some merchant prince, but that Rhaenyra refused him, saying a Targaryen was meant to be more than the wife of a sellsword, and that if he could forget his Kingsguard vows, he could forget marriage vows.[3]

The royal fool Mushroom tells a different tale - that Rhaenyra had been practicing her enticements with her uncle, Prince Daemon, so that she would lose her maidenhead to Criston, a man she loved, rather than her betrothed homosexual cousin, Laenor Velaryon. She failed to seduce Ser Criston in White Sword Tower, however, and the spurned princess took solace in Ser Harwin "Breakbones" Strong. Whatever the way of it, Cole went from being her staunchest defender to her bitterest foe, and Rhaenyra soon left for Driftmark with Breakbones as her new sworn shield.[3]

In 114 AC, Ser Criston attended the wedding of Rhaenyra to Laenor, which included seven days of feasting and jousting. Cole fought with Queen Alicent's token, and during a melee left Breakbones with a broken collarbone and shattered elbow, prompting Mushroom to call him "Brokenbones" thereafter. Criston's morningstar also cracked the helm of the Knight of Kisses, Laenor's favorite Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, which he died from six days later. While many were angered at Criston for this, including King Viserys, Queen Alicent did not share their displeasure, and asked that he be made her personal sworn shield. Cole became a staunch supporter of Queen Alicent ever after.[3]

Criston tutored Prince Aemond Targaryen to be a skilled swordsman, despite Aemond's one eye.[3]

The Dance of the Dragons

Due to the contradictory sources, Criston's motives in supporting Aegon II are unclear; some say that he acted from ambition as Aegon was more controllable than his willful half-sister Rhaenyra; indeed Aegon II eventually raised Criston to the office of Hand of the King.[4] However, some say Rhaenyra spurned him adding a personal dimension to the conflict.[4] Others allow Cole nobler motives and claim he was defending ancient Andal custom giving precedence to sons over daughters or that he did not wish to see Rhaenyra's children who he believed bastards to inherit the Iron Throne.[2] In any event, many of the lords of the realm were aware of Viserys's wish to have Rhaenyra succeed him as House Targaryen's first ruling queen, and threw their support behind the princess.[4]

Again due to contradictory sources, during the meeting of Viserys's small council after King Viserys's death in 129 AC, Cole is noted to have either slit the throat of or throw from a window, the aged Lord Lyman Beesbury, the only member of the council to support crowning Princess Rhaenyra instead of Prince Aegon.[7] The rest of the council were greens. Criston later crowned Aegon II with the iron-and-ruby crown of Aegon the Conqueror. However, Rhaenyra, who was at Dragonstone at the time of Aegon's coronation, refused to support Aegon, beginning the great armed conflict which engulfed the Seven Kingdoms and became known as the Dance of the Dragons.[2]

As the blacks gathered their forces, Aegon II became frustrated with his grandfather and Hand, Ser Otto Hightower, and awarded the office to Criston Cole. The Kingmaker's forces quickly took Duskendale and Rook's Rest, the latter after a fierce battle. When Prince Aemond Targaryen became Protector of the Realm and Prince Regent because of Aegon's injuries in the battle, Criston remained Hand.[2]

Aemond and the Kingmaker led an army of 4,000 greens from King's Landing to retake Harrenhal in the riverlands from Prince Daemon Targaryen, who vacated the castle before Criston arrived. After hearing of the Lannisters' defeat in the battle by the Lakeshore, Aemond began burning the riverlands and Cole marched his remaining 3,600 greens south along the western shore of the Gods Eye, intending to join with the army of Lord Ormund Hightower. However, the Kingmaker's forces were ambushed by the Winter Wolves and river knights south of the Gods Eye. Criston challenged Lord Roderick Dustin, Ser Pate of Longleaf, and Ser Garibald Grey to single combat, which they declined, and was instead slain by arrows at the Butcher's Ball in 130 AC.[8][2]

Recent Events

A Feast for Crows

Trying to gain Ser Arys Oakheart for her plot to crown Princess Myrcella Baratheon, Princess Arianne Martell tells Arys that Lord Anders Yronwood is Criston Cole reborn.[4]

While showing Ser Loras Tyrell the White Book of the Kingsguard, Lord Commander Jaime Lannister mentions the controversial Criston Cole.[9]

Quotes by Criston

Seven save this realm if we seat a bastard on the Iron Throne. They will turn the Red Keep into a brothel. No man's daughter will be safe, nor any man's wife. Even the boys ... we know what Laenor was.[2]

—Criston to the small council of Viserys I Targaryen

Quotes about Criston

My new Hand is a steel fist.[2]

The Kingmaker wrought grave harm and gravely did he pay for it ...[4]

Loras: The heroes will always be remembered. The best.
Jaime: The best and the worst. And a few who were a bit of both. Like him.[9]


  1. The World of Ice & Fire, Viserys I.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 The Princess and the Queen.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 The Rogue Prince.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  5. Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
  6. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
  7. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Blacks and the Greens.
  8. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.