Tourney at Harrenhal

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The tourney at Harrenhal as depicted by Paolo Puggioni in The World of Ice & 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.[2][N 1] The lavish prizes offered by Lord Whent brought hundreds of challengers to the tourney.[6] 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 Rhaegar Targaryen, the Prince of Dragonstone.[2] King Aerys II Targaryen attended the tournament only because Lord Varys warned him that Rhaegar, his son and the crown prince, arranged the tournament as a pretext to meet with several high lords to discuss removing his father as king in an informal Great Council.[7] Many in attendance were shocked by the king's physical decline.[2] Lord Tywin Lannister was not at Harrenhal because of a quarrel with King Aerys, although many westermen attended.[8]


Rhaegar Targaryen singing to Lyanna Stark by Mustamirri ©

During the tourney's opening ceremonies, fifteen-year-old Ser Jaime Lannister was admitted into the order of the Kingsguard. King Aerys II Targaryen is said to have believed the cheering of the crowd was for himself instead of Jaime,[2] and a young Pia was impressed with the handsome knight.[9] Although Jaime wanted to compete in the tourney the next day, Aerys commanded him to return to King's Landing that night to guard Queen Rhaella and Prince Viserys.[10]

Held that first night within the Hall of a Hundred Hearths[2] was a great feast for lords from throughout the Seven Kingdoms.[8] Besides Starks and Howland Reed, other northmen in attendance were Dustins, Hornwoods, Manderlys, and Mormonts.[8] Lord Robert Baratheon drank wine with Ser Richard Lonmouth, and a wandering crow sought recruits for the Night's Watch.[8] Benjen Stark teased his sister, Lyanna, for crying at the singing of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, so Lyanna poured wine over her younger brother's head.[8] Lady Ashara Dayne danced with a knight of the Kingsguard, Prince Oberyn Martell, and Lord Jon Connington. Brandon Stark convinced Ashara to dance with his shy brother, Eddard.[8] According to Ser Barristan Selmy, Ashara was dishonored by a man at Harrenhal.[7]


The tourney took place over ten days,[5] of which the competition lasted seven days,[2] with five days allotted to the joust.[8] There was a seven-sided melee in the ancient style,[5][8] 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.[8] There was also a mummer show.[6]

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.[8]

A mystery knight, the "Knight of the Laughing Tree", appeared in the lists to fight for the honor of a crannogman.[8] King Aerys sent men, including Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, to learn the identity of the mystery knight, who appeared and disappeared mid tourney, but they were unsuccessful.[2]

Prince Rhaegar 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][8]

The melee

House Baratheon.svg Lord Robert Baratheon.[1]

The Joust

Rhaegar Targaryen crowning Lyanna Stark by M.Luisa Giliberti©

There were five days of jousting.[8]

House Targaryen.svg Champion: Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.

Known Attendees


When winter returned at the coming of the new year, 282 AC,[2] mere days before the planned wedding of Brandon Stark to Catelyn Tully at Riverrun,[12][13] Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and six confidants abducted Brandon's sister, Lyanna Stark, less than ten leagues from Harrenhal.[2] This led to Robert's Rebellion, also called the War of the Usurper, and the end of Targaryen rule over the Seven Kingdoms.[14][15]

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.[1]

A Storm of Swords

With his sword hand having been removed by the Brave Companions, Ser Jaime Lannister is brought as a captive to Harrenhal. He 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. Jaime notices someone dug a privy trench where he had once knelt before King Aerys II Targaryen to say his Kingsguard 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.[6] Meera Reed tells Bran Stark the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree.[8]

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.[7]


Robert had been jesting with Jon Arryn and old Lord Hunter as the prince circled the field after unhorsing Ser Barristan in the final tilt to claim the champion's crown. Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty's laurel in Lyanna's lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost.[1]

—thoughts of Eddard Stark

Bran: It was Harrenhal!
Meera: Was it? Beneath its walls he saw tents of many colors, bright banners cracking in the wind, and knights in mail and plate on barded horses. He smelled roasting meats, and heard the sound of laughter and the blare of heralds' trumpets. A great tourney was about to commence, and champions from all over the land had come to contest it. The king himself was there, with his son the dragon prince. The White Swords had come, to welcome a new brother to their ranks. The storm lord was on hand, and the rose lord as well. The great lion of the rock had quarreled with the king and stayed away, but many of his bannermen and knights attended all the same. The crannogman had never seen such pageantry, and knew he might never see the like again. Part of him wanted nothing so much as to be part of it.[8]

Daenerys: But what tourneys did my brother win?
Arstan: Your Grace. He won the greatest tourney of them all.[6]

Arstan: The greatest lords and mightiest champions of the Seven Kingdoms rode in that tourney, and the Prince of Dragonstone bested them all.
Daenerys: But that was the tourney when he crowned Lyanna Stark as queen of love and beauty![6]


  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 & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.