The Red Keep is a castle on Aegon's Hill in King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. The Red Keep contains the Iron Throne and is the home of King Robert I Baratheon, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.
- 1 Layout
- 2 History
- 3 Recent Events
- 4 Quotes
- 5 References
- See also: Images of the Red Keep
The Red Keep is made of pale red stone and overlooks the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. The Red Keep has seven massive drum-towers crowned with iron ramparts. The castle is smaller than Winterfell and is patrolled by gold cloaks. Much of the Red Keep is connected underground.
Massive curtain walls surround the castle, with nests and crenelations for archers. Thick stone parapets, some four feet high, protect the outer edge of the wall ramparts, where the heads of traitors are traditionally placed on iron spikes between the crenels at the gatehouse. The walls have great bronze gates and portcullises, with narrow postern doors nearby. The castle also has great cornerforts. The immense barbican has a cobbled square in front of it. Behind the walls are small inner yards, vaulted halls, covered bridges, barracks of the City Watch of King's Landing, dungeons, granaries, kennels, and stables.
The Red Keep has serpentine steps which can be strenuous to climb. Maegor's Holdfast, the small council chambers, the Tower of the Hand, the lower bailey, a small sunken courtyard, and the black cells are located below the steps. The Great Hall with the throne room is found above the steps, and the outer yard or ward is found near the main gate. Also above the steps are the godswood, the river walk, the small kitchen, and the pig yard. The royal sept and the Maidenvault are located above the serpentine steps as well.
Relics of the Targaryen dynasty, such as dusty suits of black armor, sit in some corridors. Doors are made of oak banded with black iron. Sweet-smelling rushes can be spread on floors. The Red Keep is full of cats, including those kept as pets as well as strays, like a black tomcat.
The Great Hall contains the throne room of the king. The Iron Throne sits on a raised iron dais with high and narrow steps. A long carpet stretches from the throne to the hall's great oak-and-bronze doors. The cavernous Great Hall can feast a thousand people. The hall is oriented north to south, with high, narrow windows on the eastern and western walls. Skulls of the Targaryen dragons once adorned the walls, but King Robert I Baratheon had them moved to a cellar and replaced with hunting tapestries at the beginning of his reign. Located behind the Iron Throne is the king's door, a private exit.
The second-largest chamber in Westeros after Harrenhal, more than a thousand maidens and their family members and servants overcrowded the Great Hall during the Maiden's Day Cattle Show. Small council sessions are sometimes held in the throne room.
Maegor's Holdfast is a massive square fortress inside the heart of the Red Keep. The castle-within-a-castle is situated behind walls twelve feet thick and a dry moat lined with iron spikes. Maegor's Holdfast includes the royal apartments, and the king's bedchamber contains a canopied bed and twin hearths. The holdfast also contains the Queen's Ballroom.
Tower of the Hand
The Tower of the Hand contains the chambers of the Hand of the King and the Small Hall. The building has a solar and a garderobe, as well as tall windows. Below the tower is the chamber of the dragon mosaic.
The council chamber hosts meetings of the small council. It contains a long table, at the head of which may sit the king. The chamber is richly furnished with Myrish carpet, a carved screen from the Summer Isles, and tapestries from Lys, Norvos, and Qohor. The chamber's door is flanked by two Valyrian sphinxes. The door can be guarded by a knight of the Kingsguard when the council is in session.
The Kitchen Keep is located at a courtyard across from the castle's main kitchen. Lord Gyles Rosby has spacious apartments above the Kitchen Keep, including a large bedchamber, a solar, a bath, a dressing room, and small adjoining chambers for servants. The Red Keep also has a small kitchen and a pig yard.
The godswood of the Red Keep is an acre of elm, alder and black cottonwood trees that overlook the Blackwater Rush. The heart tree is a great oak with limbs overgrown with smokeberry vines. Princess Myrcella Baratheon has a garden at the Red Keep.
The Traitor's Walk is a pathway leading to a squat, half-round tower. The top floor holds cells for prisoners kept in a degree of comfort, such as knights or lordlings who might be ransomed, while the entrance to the dungeons sits on the ground floor. The other floors between contain rooms for the King's Justice, the Chief Gaoler, and the Lord Confessor. The dungeon entrance consists of a door of hammered iron and another door of splintered grey wood.
King Maegor I Targaryen ordered that the dungeons below the squat tower have four levels. The uppermost level has cells with high narrow windows where common criminals are confined together. The second level has smaller, personal cells without windows for highborn captives. Torches in the halls cast light through the bars. The third level cells, the black cells, are smaller still and have doors of wood so that no light enters them, but they have not been used in recent years. The lowest level is used for torture. It is supposedly safer to go through the fourth level of the dungeons in darkness, because there are things one would not wish to see. The dungeon has twisting turnpike stairs and iron gates. A path from the lowest level leads to the chamber of the dragon mosaic below the Tower of the Hand and to the Blackwater Rush.
The Red Keep and Aegon's High Hill have a network of secret passages and tunnels. King Maegor I Targaryen had them built to enable him to make a quick escape should his enemies ever trap him. The tunnels are supposedly full of traps. Some tunnels are of stone, while others are earth supported by timbers. Some of them are so small that a grown man must crawl through them. Some pass close to other rooms in the Red Keep, allowing a hidden person to eavesdrop on conversations.
The bedchamber used by Lord Varys contains a mechanism that causes his stone slab of a bed to float up and reveal a hidden staircase. One secret passage leads from the bedchamber of the Tower of the Hand to the chamber of the dragon mosaic below. There is also a secret way to get out of the Red Keep onto the cliffs facing the sea. Narrow handholds, impossible to see from the ground, have been cut into the rock so one may climb down to a trail beside the Blackwater Rush. Another passage out of the Red Keep leads to a sewer that empties into the river.
Maegor's Holdfast is the only building in the Red Keep that has no secret passages, as Maegor "wanted no rats in his own walls", except for one escape door that does not connect to any other passage in the Red Keep. Characters familiar with the secret passages include Maegor, Cheese, Lord Larys Strong, Varys and his little birds, and Lord Petyr Baelish.
At the start of Aegon's Conquest, Aegon the Conqueror landed at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. On the highest of the three hills of the area, Aegon's Hill, he built his first fort of earth and wood, the Aegonfort. The new city of King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, developed around the fort. In 35 AC King Aegon I tore down the wooden Aegonfort so a more fitting stone castle could be raised for House Targaryen, tasking his sister, Queen Visenya Targaryen, and the Hand of the King, Lord Alyn Stokeworth, with overseeing its construction.
When Aegon died at Dragonstone in 37 AC, he was succeeded by his son, Aenys I Targaryen, who was crowned at Dragonstone and then traveled to the capital to claim the Iron Throne in the ruins of the Aegonfort. Aenys was obsessed with the new castle, which the people of King's Landing named the Red Keep because of its stone, but the king passed away at Dragonstone during the Faith Militant uprising in 42 AC. Aenys was succeeded by his brother, Maegor I. The Red Keep and the Sept of Remembrance were seized by Warrior's Sons and Poor Fellows, but Maegor eventually used Balerion to destroy the Faith Militant at the sept and solidify his rule.
Maegor took personal charge of the Red Keep's construction in 43 AC. He went beyond the plans of Aegon and Aenys by adding a moated redoubt, later known as Maegor's Holdfast, within the walls of the Red Keep. He also commanded that secret passages, false walls, and trapdoors be introduced to the castle and tunnels through Aegon's High Hill. After Prince Viserys Targaryen was tortured to death by Tyanna of the Tower in 44 AC, King Maegor abandoned his nephew's body in the courtyard of the Red Keep. Many members of House Harroway were thrown onto the spikes below Maegor's Holdfast when the king extinguished the family in 44 AC.When the castle was completed in 45 AC, Maegor threw a feast for its builders, carvers, and stonemasons. After three days of feasting, however, Maegor the Cruel had all of the craftsmen killed so that only he would know the Red Keep's secrets. With the Red Keep complete, Maegor then began construction of the Dragonpit. When Maegor the Cruel was found dead on the Iron Throne in 48 AC, one theory suggested that a mason familiar with the castle's secret passages had escaped Maegor's massacre and assassinated the king.
King Jaehaerys I Targaryen chose Septon Barth, who worked in the Red Keep's library, to serve as his Hand of the King. In 95 AC, Queen Alysanne Targaryen broke her hip after a fall on the serpentine steps, forcing her to then walk with a cane. The ashes of Jaehaerys and Alysanne were interred beneath the Red Keep after their deaths.
Dance of the Dragons
The Red Keep was a place of song and splendor during the reign of the generous King Viserys I Targaryen. The king's trusted friend, Grand Maester Mellos, died while climbing the serpentine steps in 127 AC. Civil war erupted after Viserys's death with the Dance of the Dragons, and many men were imprisoned in the dungeons once Aegon II Targaryen took the throne. Blood and Cheese infiltrated the Red Keep and assassinated Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen to avenge the death of Prince Lucerys Velaryon at Storm's End. Afterward, the king commanded the city's ratcatchers be hanged. Ser Otto Hightower brought one hundred cats to the Red Keep to take their place.
Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen and her spouse, Prince Daemon Targaryen, landed in the outer ward of the Red Keep during the fall of King's Landing. Aegon's bride, Queen Helaena Targaryen, threw herself to her death from Maegor's Holdfast. Rhaenyra fled the city after the Storming of the Dragonpit, and Ser Perkin the Flea claimed the abandoned Red Keep for Trystane Truefyre. Lord Borros Baratheon recovered King's Landing for Aegon II during the Moon of the Three Kings, but the king was eventually found dead within the Red Keep after the Battle of the Kingsroad.
Lord Cregan Stark administered justice for King Aegon III Targaryen during the Hour of the Wolf in 131 AC. During the regency of Aegon III the following year, Lord Corlys Velaryon died while climbing the serpentine steps, and young Falena Stokeworth broke her leg on the steps in 133 AC before the Maiden's Day Cattle Show. Aegon and his brother, Prince Viserys, were besieged in Maegor's Holdfast for eighteen days, the so-called secret siege, by Ser Marston Waters. Ser Lucas Lothston, the master-at-arms of the Red Keep, was granted Harrenhal by Aegon in 151 AC.
King Baelor I Targaryen confined his sisters in the Maidenvault when he came to the throne, claiming it would prevent any carnal thoughts. Maron Martell, Prince of Dorne, submitted to King Daeron II Targaryen before the Iron Throne, after which the pair rode to the Great Sept of Baelor.
Ser Quentyn Ball, the castle's master-at-arms, helped Ser Daemon Blackfyre escape the Red Keep at the start of the First Blackfyre Rebellion. The Raven's Teeth of Lord Brynden Rivers garrisoned the castle during the reign of King Aerys I Targaryen. Daemon II Blackfyre was kept hostage below the castle by Bloodraven after the Second Blackfyre Rebellion. Ser Aegor Rivers was a prisoner in the Red Keep after the Third Blackfyre Rebellion, but Bittersteel eventually escaped to the Free Cities while traveling to the Wall. The murder of Aenys Blackfyre at the Red Keep by order of Brynden Rivers led to Bloodraven being sent to the Wall by King Aegon V Targaryen.
The Mad King
Lord Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King to Aerys II Targaryen, desired to have his brother, Ser Tygett Lannister, appointed as master-at-arms of the Red Keep. The growing rift between the king and his Hand led to Ser Willem Darry instead being chosen in 170 AC.
The Mad King remained in the Red Keep for four years after the Defiance of Duskendale, but he unexpectedly left the castle to attend the tourney at Harrenhal. His heir, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, chose to reside at Dragonstone instead of the capital. Aerys tasked the Alchemists' Guild with using wildfire to ward off winter in 281 AC, the Year of the False Spring, and green flame burned on the walls of the Red Keep.
After Lyanna Stark was abducted by Rhaegar, her brother, Brandon Stark, rode into the Red Keep to challenge Rhaegar. Aerys had Brandon and his companions arrested, however, and summoned their fathers to court. The king had almost all of them murdered, with Brandon and his father, Lord Rickard Stark, being executed in the throne room. Later during Robert's Rebellion, Rhaegar rode from the Red Keep to confront Lord Robert Baratheon, but the prince was slain by Robert in the Battle of the Trident.
Ser Jaime Lannister, a member of the Mad King's Kingsguard, held the Red Keep amid the Sack of King's Landing. Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch climbed the walls of Maegor's Holdfast and slew Rhaegar's wife, Princess Elia Martell, and children, Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon Targaryen. Jaime wanted the king to surrender the castle, but Aerys instead wanted to enact his wildfire plot, with wildfire having been hidden throughout the city, including the castle's cellars. Jaime slew Rossart while the Hand of the King hurried to a postern gate, and then Jaime killed Aerys before the Iron Throne. Willem Darry eventually helped Aerys's surviving children, Prince Viserys and Princess Daenerys, flee Dragonstone before its assault by Stannis Baratheon.
King Robert I Baratheon claimed the Iron Throne after the death of King Aerys II Targaryen. Ser Aron Santagar serves as master-at-arms of the Red Keep, while Ser Ilyn Payne is the King's Justice. Grand Maester Pycelle handles the castle's ravens. Moon Boy and Orland are Robert's fool and bard, respectively.
A Game of Thrones
Lady Lysa Arryn abruptly flees the Red Keep in the night after the death of her husband, Lord Jon Arryn. The new Hand of the King, Lord Eddard Stark, and his daughters, Sansa and Arya, take up residence in Jon's former chambers in the Tower of the Hand.
King Robert I Baratheon is taken to his chambers in Maegor's Holdfast after having been mortally wounded by a boar in the kingswood. After Robert dies, Queen Cersei Lannister has Eddard arrested in the throne room for plotting against King Joffrey I Baratheon. Lord Stark is thrown into the dungeon and Sansa is confined to the tallest tower of Maegor's, but Arya escapes the Lannister guards by fleeing into the dungeons.
Robert's hunting tapestries are removed from the throne room's walls. Sansa is eventually granted freedom of the castle by Cersei, although the girl is not allowed to leave the Red Keep. Ser Barristan Selmy, having been dismissed from the Kingsguard, slays two gold cloaks in the stables while attempting to leave the Red Keep. Joffrey has the spiked heads of Eddard and other members of his retinue displayed on the castle's walls. Sansa briefly considers pushing Joffrey from the battlements and falling to her death, but she refrains when Sandor Clegane treats her wounded lip.
A Clash of Kings
With the War of the Five Kings having broken out, the tourney on King Joffrey's name day is held in the Red Keep. Tyrion Lannister, the acting Hand, has Vylarr remove the spiked heads. Ser Dontos Hollard meets with Sansa Stark in the castle's godswood to avoid being overheard.
When a mob of smallfolk ask for food outside the castle's gates, King Joffrey I Baratheon has his guards fire upon them. The royal party flees back to the Red Keep during the riot of King's Landing.
During the Battle of the Blackwater, Sansa and other ladies take refuge in the Red Keep's royal sept and the Queen's Ballroom. Queen Cersei Lannister has Ser Ilyn Payne, the King's Justice, on hand in the ballroom, and she recalls Joffrey to Maegor's Holdfast during the battle. The castle's bells ring to celebrate the defeat of Stannis Baratheon by Lord Tywin Lannister. Afterward, heroes and captives are presented before Joffrey in the throne room.
A Storm of Swords
Lord Mace Tyrell's court stays in the Maidenvault during their visit to King's Landing. Tyrion Lannister houses Prince Oberyn Martell's retinue from Dorne in a cornerfort away from the Tyrells.
King Joffrey receives wedding gifts in the Queen's Ballroom. Following his wedding to Margaery Tyrell at the Great Sept of Baelor, Joffrey dies at the reception in the throne room. Tyrion is blamed for Joffrey's death and is held in a tower cell. Sansa escapes the Red Keep with the assistance of Joffrey's new fool, Dontos Hollard. It is rumored that a ghostly direwolf prowls the Red Keep after Sansa's disappearance. Ser Jaime Lannister has sex with his sister, Queen Cersei Lannister, in the royal sept, where Joffrey's body has been placed.
Oberyn represents Tyrion in a trial by combat held in the Red Keep's outer ward, but the Red Viper is slain by Ser Gregor Clegane. The night before Tyrion is to be executed, Jaime forces Varys to help his brother escape from the black cells. Varys then guides Tyrion to the chamber of the dragon mosaic. Tyrion climbs a secret passage to the Tower of the Hand, where he kills his father, Lord Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King.
A Feast for Crows
Queen Regent Cersei Lannister becomes paranoid after her father, Lord Tywin Lannister, is found murdered in the Tower of the Hand. The queen fears that her younger brother, Tyrion Lannister, is moving in secret passages, and that the vanished Varys has allied with Stannis Baratheon. Ser Jaime Lannister and guards unsuccessfully search for Tyrion and Varys. The undergaoler Rugen has also disappeared.
King Tommen I Baratheon weds Margaery Tyrell in a modest ceremony within the castle sept. After the feast in the Small Hall, Cersei has the Tower of the Hand burned to the ground with wildfire. The queen dreams of building a new royal castle on the other side of the Blackwater Rush. Cersei refuses to allow Ser Loras Tyrell to become the castle's new master-at-arms. The dying Ser Gregor Clegane and enemies of Cersei are sent by the queen to the black cells for experimentation by Qyburn.
A Dance with Dragons
With Queen Cersei Lannister having been arrested by the High Sparrow, her uncle, Ser Kevan Lannister, takes up residence in the Red Keep as Lord Regent. Several accusers against Margaery Tyrell are imprisoned in dungeons under the castle. Cersei embarks on a walk of atonement from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep.
The new Hand of the King, Lord Mace Tyrell, plans to construct a replacement Tower of the Hand triple the size of the original. Kevan and Pycelle are assassinated by Varys and his "little birds" in the Grand Maester's chambers below the rookery.
Aegon the Conqueror had commanded it built. His son Maegor the Cruel had seen it completed. Afterward he had taken the heads of every stonemason, woodworker, and builder who had labored on it. Only the blood of the dragon would ever know the secrets of the fortress the Dragonlords had built, he vowed.—thoughts of Catelyn Stark
The Red Keep has ways known only to ghosts and spiders.
—thoughts of Arya Stark
The river that had seemed so narrow from a distance now stretched wide as a sea, but the city had grown gigantic as well. Glowering down from Aegon's High Hill, the Red Keep commanded the approaches. Its iron-crowned battlements, massive towers, and thick red walls gave it the aspect of a ferocious beast hunched above river and streets. The bluffs on which it crouched were steep and rocky, spotted with lichen and gnarled thorny trees.—thoughts of Davos Seaworth
—thoughts of Jaime Lannister
—thoughts of Cersei Lannister
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 58, Davos III.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 32, Arya III.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard XIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 58, Tyrion VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 67, Sansa VI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 52, Sansa IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 12, Tyrion II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 18, Sansa II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 15, Tyrion III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 61, Sansa V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24, Cersei V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 4, Tyrion I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 6, Sansa I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 32, Cersei VII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
- A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 29, Tyrion VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 77, Tyrion XI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 51, Sansa IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 59, Sansa IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, King's Landing.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon I.
- Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I.
- Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
- Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Blacks and the Greens.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - A Son for a Son.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Red Dragon and the Gold.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Riverlands: House Tully.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
- The Sworn Sword.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
- A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
- A Storm of Swords, Appendix.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.
- So Spake Martin: Sentry Books Signing (Calgary, Canada), November 16, 2000
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 50, Arya IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 60, Jon VIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 11, Daenerys II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 2, Sansa I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 20, Tyrion V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 62, Sansa VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 28, Sansa III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 3, Cersei I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 12, Cersei III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 25, Brienne V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys II.