Great Sept of Baelor

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The Great Sept of Baelor, by Marc Simonetti ©

The Great Sept of Baelor, also called the Great Sept,[1] Baelor's Sept,[2] and Beloved Baelor's Sept,[3] is the center of religious worship for the Faith of the Seven and the seat of the High Septon. The sept is located in King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. The building is named after the septon-king, Baelor I Targaryen. The Great Sept is rivaled only by the Starry Sept of Oldtown and the castle sept of Highgarden.[4]

Layout

See also: Images of the Great Sept of Baelor
The sept, plaza, and Red Keep with King's Landing.
Art by Kim Pope, for Game of Thrones

The Great Sept of Baelor is located at the top of Visenya's Hill in King's Landing. The plaza of white marble which surrounds the sept features a statue of King Baelor the Blessed standing tall and serene upon a plinth, his face a study of benevolence.[5] Large gardens, capable of holding hundreds of people, surround the sept,[6] and marble steps lead up to the building.[7]

The Great Sept is an impressive marble structure with a great dome[8] and seven slender crystal towers,[9][3] the bells of which can be rung in mourning[10] or to gather crowds.[5] The lofty dome is made of leaded glass,[11] gold,[7] and crystal.[7] Before the doors leading into the building is a raised marble pulpit from which a septon can address a gathering crowd.[2]

Past the towering outer doors[11] is the Hall of Lamps, with its suspended globes of colored leaded glass.[7] The sept's floor is polished marble.[12][8]

Past the entrance hall, through inner doors, is the cavernous sept proper, with seven broad aisles meeting beneath the dome.[7] The interior contains benches for worshippers and a stepped marble bier upon which bodies can be placed for funerals.[7] The building has high windows, and light is reflected into rainbows by hanging crystals and the glass dome.[7][8][11] Incense sweetens the air.[11]

The sept has towering[8] stone statues of the Seven.[13] Scented candles can be placed by worshippers at each altar,[8] with most placed before those of the Mother and the Maiden but only a few before the Stranger.[11] The Warrior stands on an altar of red marble.[11] Different altars are used for different ceremonies, depending on their purpose. For example, marriages are conducted at the altar between two towering gilded statues of the Father and the Mother.[14] There are several sets of doors leading into the sept proper; septons use the Father's Doors, septas the Mother's Doors, and silent sisters the Stranger's Steps.[8]

The Great Sept has seven transepts,[7] various crypts and chapels,[7] and a rainbow pool.[1] The sept has tombs where kings are laid to rest,[15] and its vaults hold costly vestments, rings, crystal crowns, and other treasures of the Faith.[6] Below ground is a seven-sided audience chamber with the faces of the Seven carved into bare stone walls, with their eyes made of onyx, malachite, yellow moonstone, and jade.[3] Cells of varying sizes[13] for penitents[6] are found in the towers,[3] which have rough stone steps.[5] Individuals accused by the Faith can also be held in chambers below the sept.[3][13]

Thrice yearly septons from Baelor's Sept create heraldic drawings and illuminations for the White Book of the Kingsguard.[15]

History

Bell tower in the plaza outside the Great Sept, from Game of Thrones Blu-ray

During the reign of King Aegon I Targaryen, a sept for the smallfolk of King's Landing was made in a sunken cog in the Blackwater Rush, while the High Septon in Oldtown sponsored a grander sept atop Visenya's Hill.[16] The Sept of Remembrance was then built on the Hill of Rhaenys to honor the late Queen Rhaenys Targaryen.[16] King Maegor I Targaryen destroyed the Sept of Remembrance during the Faith Militant uprising, however, and replaced it with the Dragonpit.[17]

Inspired by a vision, Baelor I Targaryen ordered the construction of a great sept atop Visenya's Hill; the fate of the grand sept atop the hill from Aegon the Conqueror's reign is unknown. The Great Sept was completed years after the death of Baelor the Blessed,[18] and it replaced the Starry Sept of Oldtown as the center of the Faith in the Seven Kingdoms.

When Dorne join the Seven Kingdoms during the reign of Daeron II Targaryen, the king rode with Maron Martell, Prince of Dorne, from the Red Keep to the Great Sept. The two men placed a wreath before the statue of Baelor the Blessed.[19]

Ser Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King to Aerys II Targaryen, wed his cousin, Joanna Lannister, within the Great Sept in 263 AC.[20] Aerys made a walk of atonement through King's Landing to the Great Sept after the death of his infant son, Prince Jaehaerys, in 274 AC.[21] Aerys's heir, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and Princess Elia Martell had a lavish wedding within the Great Sept in 280 AC.[21] King Robert I Baratheon wed Cersei Lannister in the sept after Robert's Rebellion.[11]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Ser Ilyn Payne executes Lord Eddard Stark, by Mike S Miller

With the influx of people in King's Landing before the Hand's tourney, a woman's head is found floating in the rainbow pool of the Great Sept.[1]

The sept's bells ring dolorously for a day and a night after the death of King Robert I Baratheon.[2][22]

Lord Eddard Stark is taken to the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor where, unbeknownst to him, Yoren, his daughter Arya Stark, and the disguised Ser Barristan Selmy are amongst the crowd. Eddard makes a false public confession, but the plan goes awry when King Joffrey I Baratheon declares that Eddard must be executed, to the evident shock of Queen Cersei Lannister, Varys, and the High Septon. Ser Ilyn Payne beheads Eddard on the steps with his own greatsword, Ice.[2]

A Clash of Kings

The High Septon is outraged at Lord Stark's execution, claiming it profaned the Great Sept with blood.[23] Hallyne informs Tyrion Lannister that two hundred jars of wildfire were discovered in a storeroom below the sept in 298 AC.[24] To turn public opinion against Stannis Baratheon, now a supporter of R'hllor, Tyrion spreads the word that Stannis intends to burn the Great Sept.[25][26]

Thousands jam the Great Sept of Baelor prior to the Battle of the Blackwater.[27] The sept's bells joyously thunder after Stannis's attack on the city is defeated.[22] More than six hundred new knights stand vigil in the Great Sept before walking barefoot to the Red Keep.[28]

A Storm of Swords

The royal wedding of Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell takes place at midday on the first day of the year 300 AC in the Great Sept of Baelor.[14][29] After Joffrey dies during his wedding feast, his body is entombed in the Great Sept.[15]

A Feast for Crows

Cersei Lannister and the High Sparrow, by Melissa Findley © Fantasy Flight Games

Ser Jaime Lannister stands vigil for his late father, Lord Tywin, whose body rests under the Great Sept's lofty dome of glass and gold and crystal, upon a stepped marble bier. Tywin's corpse stinks so badly no one is able to enter the sept for days afterward.[8]

Instead of a lavish ceremony in the Great Sept, King Tommen I Baratheon weds Joffrey's widow, Margaery, in the castle sept of the Red Keep.[30]

Sparrows gather in the Great Sept's plaza and beneath its doors, piling up bones and skulls beneath the statue of Baelor the Blessed.[11] After the High Septon dies, the Most Devout come close to selecting Septon Luceon as the successor. Sparrows enter the Great Sept, however, and force the elevation of the so-called High Sparrow.[11] Queen Regent Cersei Lannister meets with the High Sparrow within the sept and agrees to allow the reestablishment of the Faith Militant.[11]

The Faith of the Seven confines Margaery in a cell atop one of the Great Sept's towers, although a crowd gathers outside the sept in protest.[3] Cersei is pleased at her rival's arrest, but the High Sparrow also has the queen regent imprisoned in a tower cell.[3]

A Dance with Dragons

Cersei Lannister disrobes on the steps of the Great Sept, by Magali Villeneuve © Fantasy Flight Games

The High Sparrow uses the audience chamber as his sanctum.[13]

Tyrion Lannister thinks that the Temple of the Lord of Light in Volantis is three times the size of the Great Sept of Baelor.[31]

Poor Fellows surround the Great Sept, beneath which are imprisoned Osney Kettleblack and the Blue Bard.[13] Cersei visits the High Sparrow in his sanctum and confesses to some of her accused crimes. After being moved to a larger tower cell, she meets with her uncle, Ser Kevan Lannister.[13] Smallfolk and Poor Fellows crowd the plaza during Cersei's walk of atonement from the Great Sept to the Red Keep.[5]

Quotes

You shall wed the king in the Great Sept of Baelor, before the eyes of gods and men.[32]

When Sansa had first beheld the Great Sept with its marble walls and seven crystal towers, she'd thought it was the most beautiful building in the world, but that had been before Joffrey beheaded her father on its steps.[26]

—thoughts of Sansa Stark

None of the devout paid Jaime any mind. They made a circuit of the sept, worshiping at each of the seven altars to honor the seven aspects of the deity. To each god they made sacrifice, to each they sang a hymn. Sweet and solemn rose their voices.[8]

—thoughts of Jaime Lannister

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 27, Eddard VI.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
  4. The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: Highgarden.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 32, Cersei VII.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
  9. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
  10. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
  12. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 6, Arya I.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
  14. 14.0 14.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 59, Sansa IV.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  16. 16.0 16.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon I.
  17. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I.
  18. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
  19. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
  20. The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands: House Lannister Under the Dragons.
  21. 21.0 21.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  22. 22.0 22.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 62, Sansa VII.
  23. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
  24. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 20, Tyrion V.
  25. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
  26. 26.0 26.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 52, Sansa IV.
  27. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  28. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
  29. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
  30. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 12, Cersei III.
  31. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
  32. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 51, Sansa IV.