Barristan Selmy

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Barristan Selmy
Ian McElhinney as Baristan Selmy
Ian McElhinney as Baristan Selmy

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

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] Barristan donned the armor of a mystery knight and entering a tourney at the age of ten, Prince Duncan took pity on the mystery knight while others laughed. Duncan jousted Selmy when no one else would and it was Prince Duncan who gave Barristan his epithet.

He received his knighthood at the age of 16 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 after cutting a bloody swath through the Golden Company to get to him.[4] 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. In joining the Kingsguard 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]

He, like his other sworn brothers of the Kingsguard, was present at the tournament at Harrenhal. He was infatuated by the Lady Ashara Dayne, though he knew nothing could come of his desire for her. He planned on naming her Queen of Love and Beauty if he won the tournament, but was unhorsed by Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar then crowned Lyanna Stark, setting off a chain of events that led to Robert's Rebellion. Selmy wonders if he could have averted the war if he had defeated Rhaegar in the tournament. He also fantasizes that, if he had won the tourney and crowned her, perhaps Ashara wouldn't have been "dishonored at Harrenhal," and would have turned to him "instead of Stark." He thinks of the consequences of his unspoken love for Ashara as one of his many failures.[9]

During the War of the Usurper, 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.[10] 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 the Kingsguard of Robert's Kingsguard.[11]

Selmy had moral reservations about serving a usurper, but served loyally. Selmy recalled, however, that if he had seen Robert smile when Tywin Lannister presented him with the bodies of Rhaegar's children, he would never have served Robert and nothing on earth would have stopped Selmy from killing him. Selmy loathes seeing the deaths of children, as illustrated by his asking that the babe Dontos Hollard be spared when House Hollard was destroyed after the Defiance of Duskendale.

Ser Barristan also never approved of the choice of Jaime Lannister to the Kingsguard even before Jaime slew Aerys II. After he heard how Jaime slew Aerys he was quoted by Tyrion Lannister as saying Ser Jaimes white cloak should be traded for a black one.

During the Greyjoy Rebellion Selmy led the attack on Old Wyk.

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.[12]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Barristan serves loyally as Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard until Robert's death. During the Tourney of the Hand, he is only defeated by Ser Jaime Lannister after three tilts, having defeated men ten and twenty years younger in his first two contests.[13] When Ser Hugh of the Vale is killed in the tournament by Ser Gregor Clegane, Selmy stands vigil over the young knight himself as the boy had no one else.[14] He is present on the small council when Robert Baratheon orders the death of the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen. He and Eddard Stark are the only council members who protest the move.[15] He accompanies King Robert on his ill-fated boar hunt which led to the death of the king.[16] In an unprecedented move, he is dismissed from the Kingsguard and the small council by Joffrey Baratheon on grounds of old age. The real reasons, however, are to allow Joffrey to give a white cloak to his "dog," Sandor Clegane, and to place Jaime Lannister as the new Lord Commander.

When the king orders him seized and questioned for a perceived threat uttered in the heat of his dismissal, Selmy kills the gold cloaks sent after him.[17] Selmy later flees the city. He could have returned to Harvest Hall, where his kin would doubtless welcome him, but Selmy did not wish to inflict Joffrey's displeasure on them. Instead Selmy sells his armor and disguises himself as a commoner. He lets his beard grow out and returns to the city along with the trail of other citizens fleeing the war. He is present in the crowd when Lord Eddard Stark is executed. Afterwards he goes to the Great Sept of Baelor to pray for Eddard's soul and to thank the gods he himself had only been dismissed. These events force Barristan to reevaluate his years of service in Robert's Kingsguard alongside the likes of the Kingslayer, and others whom he considers near as bad. He comes to the conclusion that his service to Robert was inexcusable. He thinks that Robert had been a good knight, but a poor king, and that Selmy must find his true king and die in his service. This leads Selmy to book passage across the narrow sea to Pentos.[18]

A Clash of Kings

Selmy's as Arstan Whitebeard by Amoka©

Ser Barristan's search leads him to Illyrio Mopatis, who pairs him with Strong Belwas in the guise of Arstan Whitebeard, a Westerosi squire, and sends him to King Aerys's last surviving descendant, Daenerys. At the harbor of Qarth, disguised as Arstan, Barristan stops an assassination attempt by the Sorrowful Men on Daenerys's life. The assassin tried to kill Daenerys with a manticore but Selmy crushed the beast with his long staff before it could sting Daenerys. Selmy then stated that Westeros needs her, as there are too many kings in the realm and no justice and that Illyrio has sent three ships to help bring her to Pentos[19]

A Storm of Swords

Hiding his true identity for a time to assess whether Daenerys is of a sound mind, Barristan teachers her some about Westerosi culture and her family history. When Daenerys under the advice of Jorah Mormont had the ship sail for Slaver's Bay Selmy protested the idea of purchasing a slave army and was disgusted when he heard how the Unsullied were trained. Selmy however was impressed with Daenerys when she tricked the slavers and used her newly purchased army to free all the slaves.

After the sack of Astapor and the defeat of the Yunkai army Selmy saves Daenerys life near Meereen from the vengeful attack of the former Second Sons commander, Mero, known as the Titan's Bastard. Daenerys, in gratitude, wishes "Arstan" to be knighted, but he refuses and finally reveals himself and his true identity.

He also reveals that Jorah Mormont was a former spy in service to Varys. Upon the revelation of his identity, Daenerys nearly banishes him along with Ser Jorah for their deception and services to Robert, her greatest enemy.[20] However, when Selmy explains himself and repents for his service in Robert's Kingsguard, Dany sends him along with Jorah Mormont on a near suicidal mission in order for both men to prove themselves. After Meereen is captured, Daenerys pardons him and readmits him into her service, now as Lord Commander of her Queensguard.[21]

A Dance with Dragons

Ser Barristan continues his service of Daenerys Targaryen as Lord Commander of her Queensguard, attempting to lead her down an honorable path towards the safety of Meereen. Barristan opposes Daenerys's relationship with her paramour Daario Naharis, and even her marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq, which ensures temporary peace within Meereen.

He also begins training knights. His squires are Tumco Lho, Larraq and the The Red Lamb. After Daenerys's departure on Drogon's back, Barristan assumes the title of Hand of the Queen within Meereen. He is present when Bloodbeard presents the court with the head of Groleo. Barristan is enraged and wants to kill Bloodbeard, but the stops because act would break his queen's peace.[22]

He finally decides to work with Skahaz mo Kandaq, despite his loathing of the man and his own inhibitions about making decisions of state in the absence of his queen.[23] Selmy leads with honor and refuses Skahaz mo Kandaq's council on killing the Ghiscari child Cupbearers of Daenerys Targaryen who are the sons and daughters of powerful Meereenese nobles. He also enlists Grey Worm, and they plan to take Hizdahr hostage. Selmy fears that if he harms Hizdahr the Yunkai will kill the remaining hostages Daario, Jhogo and Hero just as they killed Captain Groleo. Skahaz however states it would be better for Daenerys in the long run if they killed Daario.

Despite his personal feeling about Daario, however, Selmy goes to the Tattered Prince and enlists his help.[24] He promises to reward the Tattered Prince if he frees the three hostages from the Yunkai camp. Selmy then goes to capture Hizdahr.[25] In doing so, he slays Hizdahr's protector, the formidable pit fighter Krazz. Barristan longs for the return 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.[26] He is tall and has blue eyes.[27]

References and Notes

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Characters from A Song of Ice and Fire.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Characters from A Song of Ice and Fire.
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