Barristan Selmy

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Selmy.png Barristan Selmy Kingsguard.PNG
Ian McElhinney as Baristan Selmy

Alias Barristan the Bold
Arstan Whitebeard
Ser Grandfather
Title Lord Commander
Allegiance House Selmy
House Targaryen
Culture Westeros
Born In 237 AL
Book(s) A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows

Played by Ian McElhinney

Ser Barristan Selmy, called "Barristan the Bold," is a celebrated hero and knight of the Kingsguard, serving throughout a time when the Kingsguard were considered to be the greatest knights of the realm. In the TV series he is played by Ian McElhinney.[1]


He squired for Lord Manfred Swann in his youth.[2][3][4] Barristan earned his epithet by donning the armor of a mystery knight and entering a tourney at the age of ten. He received his knighthood at the age of sixteen from King Aegon V. An eminently successful tourney knight throughout his career, he has also proven his worth on the battlefield, killing Maelys the Monstrous in single combat in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, ending the line of the Blackfyre pretenders. He was named to the Kingsguard at the age of twenty-three and swore his vows before Ser Gerold Hightower, during the reign of Jaehaerys II, for which he gave up the claim to his family seat, and the girl he was to wed was married to his cousin instead.[5][6] He defeated Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in the final joust to win the tourney held at Storm's End.[7]

During the Defiance of Duskendale, Ser Barristan avenged the death of Ser Gwayne Gaunt and rescued King Aerys II. He slew Ser Symon Hollard during the rescue. In the aftermath of the Defiance, he pleaded for the life of Dontos Hollard, to which King Aerys acquiesced.[8]

After the defeat of Lord Jon Connington at the Battle of the Bells, Ser Barristan, with Ser Jonothor Darry was sent to rally the remnants of Connington's army.[9] He was severely wounded at the Battle of the Trident . Though he fought bravely for the Targaryens during the rebellion which overthrew them, Barristan later took Robert Baratheon's pardon and became the Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard.[10] Barristan is a formidable fighter even in his advanced years, having won the championship of a tourney at King's Landing at the age of 57, and unhorsing Sandor Clegane in a tilt just a year prior to the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings.[11]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Barristan served loyally as Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard until Robert's death. During the Tourney of the Hand he was only defeated by Ser Jaime Lannister after three tilts, having defeated men ten and twenty years younger in his first two contests.[12] In an unprecedented move, he was dismissed from the Kingsguard and the small council by Joffrey I on grounds of old age. When the king ordered him seized and questioned for a perceived threat uttered in the heat of his dismissal, Selmy killed the gold cloaks sent after him.[13]

A Clash of Kings

The events forced him reevaluate his years of service in Robert's Kingsguard alongside the likes of the Kingslayer and others whom he considered near as bad. He came to the conclusion that this service was inexcusable and that his duty was to find his true king, and die in his service.

This search led him to Illyrio Mopatis who paired him with Strong Belwas in the guise of "Arstan Whitebeard," a Westerosi squire, and sent him to King Aerys's last surviving descendant, Daenerys. At the harbor of Qarth, disguised as Arstan, Barristan stops an assassination attempt on Daenerys's life by the Sorrowful Men.[14]

A Storm of Swords

Hiding his true identity for a time to assess whether Daenerys was of a sound mind, Barristan taught her some about Westerosi culture and her family history. Upon the revelation of his identity, Daenerys nearly banished him for his deception and his service under Robert, her greatest enemy. However, when Selmy explained his deception and repented for his service in Robert's Kingsguard Dany pardoned him and readmitted him into her service, now as Lord Commander of her Queensguard.

A Dance with Dragons

Ser Barristan continues his service of Daenerys Targaryen as Lord Commander of her Queensguard, attempting to lead her down an honourable path towards the safety of Meereen. Barristan opposes Daenerys' relationship with both her paramour Daario Naharis and even her marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq, which ensured temporary peace within Meereen. After Daenerys' departure on Drogon's back, Barristan assumes the title of Hand of the Queen within Meereen, after taking Hizdahr hostage and defying the Yunkish besiegers further. Barristan longs for the teturn of Daenerys but prepares for battle with the Yunkish, using a beacon system to call the attack should the fragile peace between the sides be broken.


He wears a suit of white enameled scale armor. He has white hair, yet still looks strong and graceful.[15] He is tall and has blue eyes.[16]

References and Notes

  1. HBO: Game of Thrones: cast and crew
  2. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 57, Daenerys
  3. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime
  4. In the Daenerys chapter, Barristan says he squired for a Lord Swann, but in the Jaime chapter, Manfred Swann is only listed as Ser.
  5. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa
  6. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime
  7. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys
  8. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 9, Brienne
  9. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime
  10. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard
  11. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard
  12. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa
  13. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa
  14. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa
  16. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys

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