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Kingsguard sigil.png

Standard of the Kingsguard, a crown surrounded by seven white swords[1]
Type Sworn brotherhood
Royal bodyguard
Seat White Sword Tower, Red Keep, King's Landing
Region Seven Kingdoms
Allegiance Iron Throne
Current Leader Lord Commander Jaime Lannister
Founder King Aegon I Targaryen
Queen Visenya Targaryen
Unadorned white shield of the Kingsguard

The Kingsguard, also known poetically as the White Swords[2] or white cloaks,[3] are the royal bodyguards of the Iron Throne. Regarded as the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms,[4][5] they are sworn to protect their king and the royal family with their own lives, to obey his commands, and to keep his secrets.[6] The Kingsugard are sworn for life and are forbidden from owning land, taking a wife, or fathering children,[7] although they can have non-hereditary commands, such as being warden[8] or Hand of the King.[3]

Some monarchs, such as Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (129 AC-130 AC), have operated with a Queensguard instead of a Kingsguard.



Historically composed of seven knights sworn to a lifetime of service, the Kingsguard serve unto death despite age or any physical or mental ailments, with an invalid member's duties being taken up by his sworn brothers.[9] During his time in 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. All members of the Kingsguard must be sworn knights.[10]

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 Lords Commander Ryam Redwyne and Criston Cole have also acted as Hand of the King.

In order to protect the royal family night and day, the seven-man Kingsguard must rely to some degree on others. Prince Joffrey Baratheon has Sandor Clegane as his sworn shield, 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 Lannister has Vylarr and his red cloaks).

One of the Kingsguard always stands guard outside the council chambers when the small council is in session, and one is usually posted at the end of the bridge into Maegor's Holdfast.[11][12]


The Kingsguard wear all white cloaks and intricate suits of white enameled scales, their fastenings for breastplate and other pieces made of silver.[13][10] They alone bear the right to carry a pure white unemblazoned shield.[2] Their white armor has little decoration, although some members wear decorative brooches or gaudy helms.[14][15][16] According to a semi-canon source, the Kingsguard's standard depicts seven silver swords encircling a golden crown.[1]

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 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.[17][18] The Lord Commander is always chosen by the king, with seniority and ability only playing parts in the decision.[19] Also the Lord Commander is generally chosen from the existing pool of the Kingsguard.

White Book

The white cloaks' uninterrupted history since King Aegon I Targaryen is recorded in the White Book, a volume maintained by the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. It is 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.


The Kingsguard was founded by Aegon the Conqueror of House Targaryen as an elite bodyguard for those of royal blood. The first Kingsguard was 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.[20]

When Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen put forth his claim to the Iron Throne, two Kingsguard of the reigning King Maegor I Targaryen abandoned him.[21] According to some, Maegor was killed by a member of the Kingsguard who could no longer abide his tyranny.[22]

During the Dance of the Dragons, the Kingsguard split between knights serving King Aegon II Targaryen and Queensguard serving Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen.[3]

A hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall,[23] rose to become Lord Commander for King Aegon V Targaryen.[24]

During Robert's Rebellion, Jonothor Darry and Lewyn Martell were killed during the Battle of the Trident, while Arthur Dayne, Oswell Whent, and Lord Commander Gerold Hightower died in combat at the tower of joy. Jaime Lannister slew his charge, King Aerys II Targaryen, during the Sack of King's Landing, earning himself the "Kingslayer" sobriquet. The new king, Robert I Baratheon, allowed Jaime to remain in the Kingsguard and elevated the other surviving member of the Mad King's white cloaks, Ser Barristan Selmy, to the position of Lord Commander.

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

After the death of Lord Jon Arryn, King Robert I Baratheon names Ser Jaime Lannister the new Warden of the East, even though Eddard Stark speaks of Jaime also being in line to inherit the title of Warden of the West.[8] Robert later threatens to name Jaime his Hand of the King.[14]

Robert dies after being gored by a boar, and his successor, King Joffrey I Baratheon, dismisses the aged Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy. This breaks tradition, as all previous Kingsguard served for life. Joffrey elevates his uncle, Jaime, to Lord Commander and adds to the Kingsguard Sandor Clegane, who is not a knight.[10] Jaime is captured by Robb Stark during the battle in the Whispering Wood.[25] Robb, who is proclaimed King in the North at Riverrun,[26] is protected by a group of personal guards.[25]

Daenerys Targaryen names Ser Jorah Mormont as the first member of her Queensguard.[27]

A Clash of Kings

During the War of the Five Kings, Renly Baratheon is protected by his Rainbow Guard.[28]

Joffrey has his Kingsguard beat Sansa Stark. Ser Preston Greenfield is killed during the riot of King's Landing[29] and replaced by Ser Balon Swann.[18] Ser Boros Blount, who is removed from the white cloaks for not protecting Prince Tommen Baratheon, is replaced with Ser Osmund Kettleblack.[18]

Ser Mandon Moore drowns during the Battle of the Blackwater,[30] while Sandor flees the battlefield.[31] Ser Loras Tyrell joins the Kingsguard after the battle.[32]

A Storm of Swords

Boros is restored to the Kingsguard.[33] In return for Lady Lysa Arryn returning to the king's peace, Lord Tywin Lannister, Joffrey's Hand, names Lord Robert Arryn the Warden of the East instead of Jaime.[34]

Jaime, released from imprisonment at Riverrun by Catelyn Stark,[35] returns to King's Landing.[31]

A Feast for Crows

Jaime, standing vigil for his father, Lord Tywin, wears a long hauberk, its scales mother-of-pearl chased with gold.[36]

During the failed plot to crown Princess Myrcella Baratheon, Ser Arys Oakheart is killed by Areo Hotah at the Greenblood in Dorne.[5]

A Dance with Dragons

In Meereen, Barristan becomes the Lord Commander of Daenerys's Queensguard.[37]

Against the wishes of Lord Jon Connington, Rolly Duckfield is named the first of the Kingsguard of Aegon Targaryen.[38]

Ser Robert Strong is named to the Kingsguard of King Tommen I Baratheon.[39]

Historical Members

Lord Commanders

Main article: Lord Commander of the Kingsguard

Unknown Reign

It is unknown under which king the following knights served in the Kingsguard:

Aegon I Targaryen (10 AC-37 AC)

Two members of Aegon's Kingsguard died defending him.[20]

Aenys I Targaryen (37 AC-42 AC)

Maegor I Targaryen (42 AC-48 AC)

Two members of Maegor's Kingsguard abandoned him when Prince Jaehaerys made his claim in 48 AC.[21]

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.[42]
  • Ser Clement Crabb.[41][43]
  • 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 Wall by Jaehaerys I.[40]

Viserys I Targaryen (103 AC-129 AC)

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 daughter he had proclaimed his heir, Princess Rhaenyra, were crowned.

Aegon II Targaryen

Rhaenyra Targaryen

Main: Queensguard

Aegon III Targaryen (131 AC-157 AC)

Daeron I Targaryen (157 AC-161 AC)

Three Kingsguard knights died trying to protect King Daeron I in Dorne, and one threw down his sword and yielded, in 161 AC.[50] It is currently unknown if Ser Olyvar was one of the three to die in 161 AC, or whether he died earlier during Daeron's reign.

Baelor I Targaryen (161 AC-171 AC)

Viserys II Targaryen (171 AC-172 AC)

Aegon IV Targaryen (172 AC-184 AC)

Daeron II Targaryen (184 AC-209 AC)

Aerys I Targaryen (209 AC-221 AC)

Aegon V Targaryen (233 AC-259 AC)

Jaehaerys II Targaryen (259 AC-262 AC)

Aerys II Targaryen (262 AC-283 AC)

Recent Members

Robert I Baratheon (283 AC-298 AC)

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

After Robert's Rebellion had concluded, the new king, Robert I Baratheon, had multiple positions to fill at once, as five of the members (Gerold Hightower, Arthur Dayne, Lewyn Martell, Oswell Whent, Jonothor Darry) of the Kingsguard of his predecessor, King Aerys II Targaryen, had died during the war. Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Jaime Lannister, previously members of the Kingsguard of King Aerys II, swore loyalty to the new king and served as members of his Kingsguard. Selmy had fought against King Robert during the Battle of the Trident, and captured afterwards, but Robert refused to execute him, pardoned him, and elevated him to Lord Commander of his Kingsguard. Lannister, despite having personally killed King Aerys II, was pardoned as well, and continued to serve as a Kingsguard. The other five vacancies had yet to be filled, and over the years, Robert's queen, Cersei Lannister, exercised her influence regarding the naming of new Kingsguard members as well.

Richard Horpe dreamed of a white cloak, but Queen Cersei Lannister spoke against him, and Horpe was passed over.[57]

Joffrey I Baratheon (298 AC-300 AC)

Kingsguard in Game of Thrones

Upon his ascension, King Joffrey I Baratheon dismissed Lord Commander Barristan Selmy, which had never been done before. Controversial knight Jaime Lannister was named Lord Commander in Selmy's stead, and the unanointed warrior Sandor Clegane was appointed the empty position, marking the first moment a member of the Kingsguard was not a knight.

Tommen I Baratheon (300 AC)

Claimants to the Iron Throne

Aegon VI (300 AC)

Upon landing in Westeros with the Golden Company, Aegon named his friend Rolly Duckfield the first of his new Kingsguard.[38] 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.
  • {open}
  • {open}
  • {open}
  • {open}
  • {open}


A paper shield.[2]
Varys, on Robert I Baratheon's Kingsguard

Of these seven, only Ser Barristan Selmy is made of the true steel.[2]
Varys, on Robert I Baratheon's Kingsguard

The Kingsguard does not flee.[14]
Gerold Hightower

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.[4]

Bran Stark's reflections on the Kingsguard

Our knees do not bend easily.[14]
Arthur Dayne, regarding the Kingsguard

Once a man puts on that cloak, it changes him.[58]
Jaime Lannister

Something his father had told him once when he was little came back to him suddenly. He had asked Lord Eddard if the Kingsguard were truly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms. "No longer," he answered, "but once they were a marvel, a shining lesson to the world."[59]
– thoughts of Bran Stark

The days when men like Ryam Redwyne and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight wore the white cloak are gone to dust and song.[2]
Varys to Eddard Stark regarding Robert I Baratheon's Kingsguard

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.[60]
Brienne of Tarth to 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.[61]
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." [24]
Jaime Lannister's thoughts on the present Kingsguard

See also

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Winds of Winter, Barristan I
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 The Princess and the Queen.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8, Bran II.
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
  6. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 55, The Queensguard.
  7. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  9. So Spake Martin: The Kingsguard (May 22, 1999)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
  12. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  13. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 51, Sansa IV.
  16. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 67, Sansa VI.
  17. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
  19. So Spake Martin: Archon Meeting (October 5, 2001)
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 20.8 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon I.
  21. 21.0 21.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I.
  22. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 The Hedge Knight.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  25. 25.0 25.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 63, Catelyn X.
  26. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
  27. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 72, Daenerys X.
  28. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  29. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
  30. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 61, Tyrion XIV.
  31. 31.0 31.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
  32. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
  33. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
  34. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  35. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 1, Jaime I.
  36. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
  37. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 2, Daenerys I.
  38. 38.0 38.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
  39. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
  40. 40.00 40.01 40.02 40.03 40.04 40.05 40.06 40.07 40.08 40.09 40.10 40.11 40.12 40.13 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 41.4 41.5 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3 42.4 The Rogue Prince.
  43. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  44. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings:Aegon III.
  45. 45.0 45.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
  46. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
  47. 47.0 47.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 12, Tyrion II.
  48. Born in 136 AC, Aemon was 17 years old when he took his vows, shortly after the wedding of Aegon and Naerys in 153 AC
  49. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  50. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron I.
  51. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Aegon IV Targaryen.
  52. The Sworn Sword.
  53. The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale: House Arryn.
  54. The Mystery Knight.
  55. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
  56. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys II.
  57. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
  58. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 12, Cersei III.
  59. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 21, Bran III.
  60. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
  61. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.

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