|Alias||Light of the West|
Protector of the Realm
Lady of Casterly Rock
|Born||In 266 AC, at Casterly Rock|
|Spouse||Robert Baratheon (deceased)|
A Game of Thrones (Appears)|
A Clash of Kings (Appears)
A Storm of Swords (Appears)
A Feast for Crows (POV)
A Dance with Dragons (POV)
|Played by||Lena Heady|
|TV series||Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3|
Cersei Lannister is the eldest child of Tywin and Joanna Lannister by mere moments, and the twin sister of Jaime Lannister. After Robert's Rebellion she married the new king, Robert Baratheon, and became Queen of the Seven Kingdoms; she is the mother of Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen Baratheon. She becomes a POV Character in A Feast for Crows. In the TV series she is played by Lena Headey.
Character and Appearance
Cersei is willful, ambitious and has a certain low cunning. She is, in her opinion, politically astute and likes to think of herself as her father's daughter, and feels slighted when people do not jump to her erratic commands. She resents the customs and conventions put on her because of her gender, but never realizes that people do not come to her or respect her commands because she is an ineffectual leader.
Early in the series, Cersei displays some real cunning in handling the political turmoil and intrigues surrounding the death of King Robert and the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings. As the series progresses, however, the more power Cersei obtains, the more she proves herself to be incompetent at handling it; although she has spent most of her life scheming to gain power, she seems to have little idea of what to do with it once she has it.
Her quick temper and her easily wounded pride frequently lead her to make rash decisions, and she rarely considers what unintended consequences her actions might have. She lacks the patience for dealing with the tedious yet vital details of administration, and increasingly tends to avoid facing unpleasant facts, surrounding herself with sycophants rather than honest and competent advisers; ironically, despite her contempt for Robert's hedonistic lifestyle and physical deterioration, she is unconsciously coming to mimic his habit of overindulging in food, alcohol and sex as distractions from the pressures of leadership. Although she shares her father's philosophy of ruling through fear rather than love, she lacks his ability to temper ruthlessness with caution, pragmatism, and sound, objective judgment.
Cersei's feelings toward her father are complex; she resents him for marrying her off to Robert Baratheon and for never granting her as much power and respect as she craved, but also admires and seeks to emulate his brutal effectiveness as a politician. She has loathed her younger brother Tyrion ever since his birth killed their mother. Although once optimistic about her royal marriage to Robert Baratheon, she quickly grew to despise him as a drunken fool who remained too infatuated with the memory of Lyanna Stark to give her a second glance.
The only people she can truly be said to love are her twin brother Jaime, with whom she has carried on an incestuous relationship since their adolescence, and her children (all of whom carry the surname Baratheon, but were in fact fathered by Jaime). However, she seems to love Jaime and the children more as extensions of herself than anything else, and can turn on them suddenly: while she protects her children fiercely from any others who would harm them, she provides them with little in the way of sound guidance or consistent discipline, and can react abusively when they defy or disappoint her.
Cersei is a strikingly beautiful woman with classic Lannister looks: blonde hair, brilliant green eyes, fair skin, and a slender, graceful figure. this collection of images.However, time and motherhood are beginning to take their toll on her body, and as of A Feast for Crows she has begun to gain weight as a result of alcohol abuse. Like many other characters in the series, she occasionally has dreams that seem to be prophetic.
Cersei is technically her parents' oldest child, although her twin Jaime was born mere moments later, clutching her heel. The twins were nine years old when their brother Tyrion was born, killing their mother and causing their father to become cold and bitter.
Cersei has been haunted since childhood by a prophecy made by a wise woman, Maggy the Frog, who was reputed to have magical powers. The woman correctly predicted Cersei's marriage and mutual infidelity with a king. She went on to prophesy that Cersei would outlive all her children, who would die as kings and queens, and that after everything she had was taken away by a younger and more beautiful queen, the valonqar (High Valyrian for “little brother”) would come to end her life. Young Cersei was so terrified by this prophecy that she murdered her close friend Melara Hetherspoon, who had been present, shortly afterward to prevent her from speaking of it. She has always identified the valonqar as Tyrion, and eventually comes to worry that Margaery Tyrell might be the younger and more beautiful queen.
When Cersei was a girl, her father promised her that she would marry Prince Rhaegar and would one day become queen. She was delighted by this news and became infatuated with Rhaegar upon their first meeting. However, King Aerys rebuffed Tywin's offer, later marrying Rhaegar to Elia Martell.
Cersei and Jaime experimented sexually with one another during childhood. At one point they were discovered by a servant, and their mother moved their rooms to separate sides of the castle in an attempt to prevent such behavior. At the age of twelve, Cersei was taken to King's Landing with her father, then Hand of the King. In the following years, Lord Tywin refused every offer of marriage for Cersei he received, probably still hoping for a match with one of the Targaryen princes. She missed Jaime and was jealous when Lord Tywin eventually proposed to marry him to Lysa Tully. Jaime was knighted at the age of fifteen during the campaign against the Kingswood Brotherhood and, on his way home to Casterly Rock, he visited King's Landing, mainly to see his sister. Cersei seduced him during the visit and persuaded him to join the Kingsguard, which would require him to remain unmarried and live near her in King's Landing. She expected that Lord Tywin would be strictly opposed to the idea, but that he would not dare to openly object to it in order not to offend King Aerys.
Cersei orchestrated the arrangements behind the scenes over the course of the next month, but, although she was successful in securing Jaime's place in the Kingsguard, her plan backfired. Unbeknownst to her, tensions had been growing in her father's relationship with the king, and Lord Tywin perceived Jaime's appointment to the Kingsguard as a slight intended to rob him of his heir. Furious, he used a pretext to resign as Hand and moved back to Casterly Rock with Cersei, separating the twins once more.
Shortly after the conclusion of Robert's Rebellion, a marriage was arranged between Cersei and Robert Baratheon in order to seal the royal house's alliance with House Lannister. She was at first enthralled by the happy crowds at the royal wedding, but her enthusiasm for the match ended abruptly when Robert called her “Lyanna” during their first night together. The marriage rapidly deteriorated, and Cersei resumed her incestuous relationship with Jaime. She bore him three children (Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen), all of whom she successfully passed off as the king's trueborn heirs. Having grown to hate Robert, she took care to ensure he did not impregnate her, and would later reveal to Eddard Stark that she aborted a pregnancy fathered by him early in their marriage.
The true parentage of Cersei's children remained a closely guarded secret until Stannis Baratheon, who was familiar with the appearance of his brother's black haired, blue eyed bastard offspring, grew suspicious of the royal children's lack of resemblance to their supposed father. He confided in then-Hand of the King Jon Arryn, and the two investigated the matter together. Arryn was killed by poison before he could act on their discoveries, prompting Stannis to flee King's Landing. However, their activities would leave behind a trail of clues for others to follow.
A Game of Thrones
After the death of Jon Arryn, Cersei accompanies her husband, King Robert Baratheon, to Winterfell. When Robert and most of the castle go on a hunting trip, Cersei remains behind, as does her brother Ser Jaime. The two are caught having sex by Bran Stark, and when Cersei insists that they must do something to prevent the boy from telling anyone, Jaime immediately pushes him off a tower. She later berates Jaime for his impulsiveness, arguing that attempting to kill the boy was foolish when they could have simply intimidated him into silence.
While the royal procession travels back to King's Landing, Prince Joffrey bullies a common boy, Mycah, prompting Arya Stark and her direwolf to attack and disarm him. Joffrey tells his parents that Arya and her wolf attacked him without provocation. Cersei takes his side and argues that the girl should lose a hand in accordance with the ancient penalty for striking a prince of royal blood. When Robert refuses this, she talks her brother Jaime into maiming or killing Arya for her, using sex as bribe. Jaime secretly searches for the girl to do his sister's bidding, but Arya is found by Stark guards first. Robert again resists Cersei's call for severely punishing Arya, but Cersei successfully pressures him into ordering the execution of another direwolf as a proxy.
Having appointed Eddard Stark Jon Arryn's replacement as Hand of the King, Robert orders a great tourney held in honor of the new Hand. Cersei forbids Robert from fighting in the melee, inciting a public argument between king and queen. Robert intends to fight anyway, but Eddard and Ser Barristan succeed in dissuading him. Later, Varys claims that Cersei had known publicly forbidding Robert from participating in the melee was the most effective way of convincing him to do so, and had been planning to have him "accidentally" killed in the melee. He also suggests that Ser Hugh of the Vale, who had been killed by Ser Gregor Clegane earlier in the tournament, could have poisoned Jon Arryn at the Lannisters' instigation, only to have them arrange his death in order to ensure his silence afterward.
When Tyrion is abducted by Catelyn Stark, Cersei argues with Robert, insulting his manhood for his failure to immediately avenge the insult to her family. The king strikes her in response, but Cersei tells him she intends to wear the bruise "as a badge of honor." Eddard Stark, who is present, does not approve of his friend's action; Robert admits that it was "not kingly," but blames Cersei for provoking him. Eddard, who has been appointed the Hand of the King, investigates Jon Arryn's death and discovers the truth about the royal children's parentage. He confronts Cersei, and she admits that his accusation is true. She promises to make it worth his while if Eddard allies with her and keeps her secret, but he refuses. Not wanting to see the children harmed, Eddard warns her that he intends to tell Robert the truth and urges her to flee with the princes and princess. 
She instead uses the time to arrange a hunting "accident" for Robert. She provides his squire Lancel, one of her lovers, with fortified strongwine, telling him it is Robert's favorite vintage. Lancel serves it to the king during the hunt, and as the wine is far stronger than Robert expects, he becomes drunk and is fatally injured by a boar. On his deathbed Robert names Eddard Stark regent until his 13-year-old heir Joffrey comes of age, but the morning after Robert's death, Cersei seizes power, denouncing Lord Eddard as a traitor who conspired against King Joffrey. She has Eddard imprisoned and is named Queen Regent, heading Joffrey's small council.
Cersei intends to have Eddard convicted of treason but allowed to take the black, thus discrediting him and removing him as a factor in the political arena without antagonizing the North. She arranges a public confession for him on the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor, assuring the High Septon that he will be offered forgiveness and the holy ground will not be profaned with blood. However, she underestimates Joffrey's willfulness and taste for cruelty. He foolishly ignores her advice and instead orders Lord Stark's immediate execution. Janos Slynt and Ser Ilyn Payne carry out the king's imprudent command before Cersei can intervene, deeply offending the Faith and rendering peace between Stark and Lannister impossible.
A Clash of Kings
To end the foolish edicts made by King Joffrey and Cersei, Tywin promptly puts Tyrion in the position of Hand of the King until he can claim the seat himself. When Tyrion arrives in King's Landing, bearing a letter from their father naming him Hand of the King, Cersei nearly has him thrown in the dungeon before he placates her by saying he could rescue Jaime. As Hand, Tyrion struggles to wrest control from her, finally resorting to poisoning her to ger her out of the way for a few days. He nullifies most of Cersei's decisions, recalling the Gold Cloaks who are killing off Robert's bastards at her behest.
In Jaime's absence, Cersei begins taking other lovers into her bed. After Tyrion sends away her personal guard, she tries to employ three sellswords to replace them - Osney, Osmund and Osfryd Kettleblack - but Tyrion finds out and buys their loyalty. The Kettleblacks are actually loyal to Petyr Baelish, but neither Cersei nor Tyrion figure this out.
Tyrion sends off Princess Myrcella to Sunspear in an effort to win over the Martells. Before doing so, his counter intelligence methods mean that Cersei's agent, Grand Maester Pycelle, is no longer a useful source against him. After Myrcella is sent off, Cersei is among those who is caught up in the Riot of King's Landing provoked by a thoughtless comment she makes to King Joffrey about a dead baby. Jaime later wonders if Varys had advance knowledge of the riot, since he wasn't there for it.
As King Stannis Baratheon moves on King's Landing, Cersei decided to get her son Tommen out of the city for safety, but Tyrion's men intercept the party and take Tommen into his custody. Fed up with Tyrion's efforts to rule, Cersei had Alayaya, a whore she believed Tyrion was sleeping with, arrested and beaten, and used her as a hostage in return for Tommen's safe return. She also removes Ser Boros Blount from the Kingsguard for his failure to resist Tyrion's men, although removing the cowardly Blount from the Kingsguard was considered one of her few wiser decision she replaces him with Osmund Kettleblack a man just as hollow .
As the battle for King's Landing begins, Cersei hosts a banquet for all the noblewomen in the Red Keep in an effort to keep their minds off the fighting, she says, but she invites Ser Ilyn the headman to be on hand to kill them off if the city is taken, to prevent them from becoming hostages. When she hears that the Mud Gate is under attack, she has Joffrey summoned back to the Red Keep. Seeing the king flee back to the castle damaged morale and caused the men to rout, nearly costing her the city. This outrages Lancel Lannister, who feels they could have held the gates if Cersei hadn't recalled the King. If not for the timely arrival and attack on Stannis's flank by the army of Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell, the battle would have been lost for the Lannisters. Due to Tyrion's wounds, she is able to lie to her father and turn her father's prejudice against Tyrion to her advantage, all but completely stripping Tyrion's power from him by the time her brother's convalescence is over.
A Storm of Swords
Tywin bends Cersei to his will and later makes it clear she is no longer wanted on the council and plans to marry her off again, either to Willas Tyrell, Balon Greyjoy (whose wife was elderly and had failing health) or Oberyn Martell. After Joffrey offends Tywin through his ungracious behaviour, Tywin is furious and asks where the boy could have learnt such amoral sentiments. Cersei tries to place the blame on Robert but it is clear to all in the room, including Kevan, that it is Cersei's belief system too .
Joff is killed at his own wedding feast and Cersei accuses her brother Tyrion and his wife, Sansa Stark, falsely believing them responsible . Cersei names Ser Gregor Clegane champion if there is to be a trial by combat. This move, however, leads Oberyn Martell, whose sister was murdered by Gregor over a dozen years ago, to champion Tyrion . Oberyn is killed in the duel, and Ser Gregor is fatally wounded .
A Feast for Crows
When her father Tywin is murdered, the checks on her claim to power are cleared. She resumes her position as Regent over her son, the eight-year-old King Tommen, who is entirely obedient to her will. As the eldest child of Tywin, she is also acknowledged as the Lady of Casterly Rock by her uncle Kevan. Thus empowered and unrestricted, Cersei feels she has the opportunity to prove herself an even better ruler than her father. She begins her new regime by filling all of the positions on Tommen's small council with her own supporters and agents, disregarding the previous arrangements made by Tywin and the well-meant, if blunt, advice from Kevan. She becomes a restless sleeper, troubled by nightmares of the Imp and the Iron Throne consuming her. 
Cersei grows to suspect that her powerful Tyrell allies, now relatives through Tommen's marriage to Margaery, are trying to seize control of the kingdom. This suspicion grows from a Tyrell coin found by Maester Qyburn in the dungeon where Tyrion was being held before his escape.
Since the reader knows the Tyrells had nothing to do with Tyrion's escape, the coin was likely planted by someone else - i.e., Varys - in the hopes of spreading discord in the Tyrell/Lannister alliance. If so, the plot seems to have worked, as Cersei commences a campaign of intrigue to remove all the Tyrells in King's Landing from positions of influence and authority, including her son's wife, Margaery, and Ser Loras, a member of the Kingsguard. She befriends Taena Merryweather who informs Cersei that her maid Senelle is spying on her for Margaery. This leads Senelle to be given over to Qyburn for his twisted experiments. Taena becomes her bedwarmer and confidant.
Cersei's paranoia alienates Jaime, who abandons her to her political machinations. She refuses to honor the debts owed by the Crown, angering powerful institutions such as the Iron Bank of Braavos and the Faith of the Seven. This results in the Faith refusing to bless King Tommen, and the Iron Bank calling in all their debts throughout Westeros and refusing all new loans. This causes economic chaos throughout the Seven Kingdoms. With the monies owed, Cersei constructs a new royal fleet of warships and gives command to Aurane Waters, the Bastard of Driftmark and a sellsail of questionable expertise and loyalty.
Yet another of her ill-conceived schemes is a secret mission which she gives Ser Balon Swann of the Kingsguard, who is headed for Dorne to deliver the head of Ser Gregor Clegane. Ser Balon carries a letter in which Cersei asks Prince Doran to give leave to her daughter Myrcella to return to King's Landing for what is decribed as a short visit, and to invite Prince Doran to take the Dornish seat on the small council that has been left vacant with the death of Prince Oberyn. The secret part of Ser Balon's mission, of which Prince Doran soon learns from informers at the royal court, is to invite Prince Trystane to accompany his betrothed, then kill him along the way somewhere in the Kingswood in a staged assault, for which Tyrion is supposed to be blamed, with Prince Doran preferably bearing witness to the fact that the attack is not the fault of the queen's men.
In an attempt to alleviate the crown's debts, gain the Faith's blessing, and gain more protection from her purported enemies, she allows the new High Septon (known as the High Sparrow) to revive the Faith Militant, ignorant of its history of causing trouble for monarchs.
She also takes the disgraced former maester Qyburn into her service, using him as a torturer, and allowing him to conduct immoral experiments on human subjects. She tries to manipulate Falyse Stokeworth and her husband into killing Tyrion's friend, the sellsword Bronn, who was knighted and married off to simple Lollys Stokeworth to pry him away from Tyrion. The plan goes horribly wrong however when Falyse's husband foolishly challenges Bronn to single combat; Falyse flees to King's Landing to report that Bronn has killed her husband in a duel, though not before Bronn extracted a confession from the seriously injured Balman that Cersei was behind the attempt to kill him. Cersei responds by sending Falyse to Qyburn so nothing is found out about her machinations. Cersei's difficulty coping with the pressure of ruling lead to her beginning to drink heavily (something she often loathed her late husband Robert for) and begins to gain weight due to this but instead of realizing this, she blames the washer women for shrinking her gowns.
Cersei plans a plot to frame Margaery Tyrell for adultery and treason,and after seducing Osney Kettleblack has him falsely confess to the new High Septon that he had intercourse with Margaery and two of her three cousins. The High Septon acts on the information and has Margaery arrested when she visits the Sept. Cersei feigns concern publicly and visits the Sept of Baelor in order to appear to the population that she wishes Margaery released where in actual fact she does everything in her power to make sure Margaery will be found guilty.
However all of Cersei plans to remove the Tyrell influence at court backfire when the High Sparrow arrests her for several crimes, including the murder of the previous High Septon. The High Septon was suspicious of the confession of Osney Kettleblack and had him tortured till Osney revealed the actual truth.
Her own ministers seize control of the government while she awaits trial in the Great Sept of Baelor. They recall her uncle Kevan to fill her position as Regent, while her new Lord Admiral, Aurane Waters absconds with the costly new fleet. Accused of capital crimes, her only hope lies in a Kingsguard champion to stand for her in a trial by combat. She sends an emotional summons to Jaime, which he burns and does not reply to.
A Dance with Dragons
Cersei still remains a prisoner of the Faith. To try and gain access to visitors, Cersei decides to confess to the High Septon that she did have relations with her cousin Lancel Lannister and all three of the Kettleblack brothers, knowing that such sins would not earn her an execution.
She continues to deny having ordered Osney Kettleblack to kill the previous High Septon, or that she was involved in King Robert's death. The High Septon agrees to allow her one visitor a day. Cersei then learns about Myrcella's injury and of Arys Oakheart's death, which leaves a vacancy in the Kingsguard. Cersei then sends word to Lord Qyburn that the time has come.
Before her trial, the Faith requires Cersei to submit to a penance walk from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep. Cersei is shaved of hair from her entire body, then stripped naked. Just prior to the walk, at the Great Sept of Baelor she realizes that no Lannisters are there to support her, and this ordeal is hers alone. She bolsters herself by reminding herself,
Tommen is waiting for me. My little king. I can do this. I must. 
Cersei tries to hang on to her pride during the walk. At one point she thinks,
Cersei eventually breaks down in tears just before finishing and entering the Keep. Upon her entrance, Jocelyn Swyft has her body covered. Cersei is then carried into the castle by a silent eight-foot-tall knight covered head to heel in thick enamelled white plate, with a great helm concealing his face. Qyburn then appears and introduces Cersei to the newest member of the Kingsguard, "Ser Robert Strong," her champion.
Cersei dines with her uncle, Ser Kevan, on the night of his death. She requests that Lady Taena Merryweather attend again her once her innocence is proved. When Kevan has no news of Jaime, Cersei seems certain of his safety. She believes that if he were dead, she would know it.
Quotes by Cersei
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
- Cersei, to Eddard Stark
"I waited, and so can he. I waited half my life. She had played the dutiful daughter, the blushing bride, the pliant wife. She had suffered Robert’s drunken groping, Jaime’s jealously, Renly’s mockery, Varys with his titters, Stannis endlessly grinding his teeth. She had contended with Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, and her vile, treacherous, murderous dwarf brother, all the while promising herself that one day it would be her turn. If Margaery Tyrell thinks to cheat me of my hour in the sun, she had bloody well think again." 
- Cersei, before she shrugs off her robe to stand naked and shorn at the Great Sept of Baelor
Quotes about Cersei
"His Sister liked to think of herself as Lord Tywin with teats, but she was wrong. Their father had been as relentless and implacable as a glacier, where Cersei was all wildfire, especially when thwarted...She does not lack for wits but she has no judgement, and no patience".
"Every man's a piece to start with, and every maid as well. Even some who think they are players. Cersei, for one. She thinks herself sly, but in truth she is utterly predictable. Her strength rests on her beauty, birth, and riches. Only the first of those is truly her own, and it will soon desert her. I pity her then. She wants power, but has no notion what to do with it when she gets it."
- Littlefinger on Cersei and the Game of Thrones.
- Tyrion to Jaime.
References and Notes
- HBO: Game of Thrones: cast and crew
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 67, Sansa VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24, Cersei V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 21, Jaime III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 45, Eddard XII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8, Bran II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 16, Eddard III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 30, Jaime IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 49, Eddard XIV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 29, Tyrion VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 54, Tyrion XII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 60, Sansa VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 62, Sansa VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 3, Cersei I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.