Hand of the King

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Tyrion Lannister, acting as Hand of the King, wears the necklace of linked hands. © Fantasy Flight Games
© Fantasy Flight Games

The Hand of the King is the king on the Iron Throne's chief advisor and is the executor of his command in the Seven Kingdoms.


Duties of the Hand include commanding the king's armies, drafting laws, dispensing justice, and generally managing the day-to-day running of the kingdom. The Hand may act on the king's behalf when he is indisposed, and sit the Iron Throne while doing so. The Hand also sits on the small council and will run the council if the king is not present.

The office typically makes the Hand the second-most powerful man in the kingdom next to the king, though some Hands had the reputation of ruling their kings.

It is considered by some to be a difficult and unglamorous job of great responsibility. A popular saying goes, "What the king dreams, the Hand builds," but the lowborn say, "The king eats, and the Hand takes the shit."[1] Many able men have failed in the office throughout history.

The Hand resides in a tower of the Red Keep called the Tower of the Hand. His badge of office always includes a hand, though each Hand can design his own. A necklace of hands linked into a chain is one possible badge. Servants of the Hand wear the emblem of a hand.


After the Targaryen War of Conquest Orys Baratheon served as the first Hand, serving King Aegon I Targaryen. The title of hand derives its name from Aegon's description of Orys as

...My shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand.[2]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Upon the death of his Hand, Lord Jon Arryn, King Robert Baratheon asks Lord Eddard Stark to serve as Lord Arryn's replacement. After Robert dies, however, his son, Joffrey Baratheon, has Ned Stark executed. Joffrey's grandfather, Lord Tywin Lannister serves as the new Hand of the King.

A Clash of King

Because he is campaigning during the War of the Five Kings, Tywin has his son, Tyrion Lannister, serve as the acting Hand in King's Landing.

Lord Alester Florent serves as the Hand to Stannis Baratheon, a rival claimant to the Iron Throne.

A Storm of Swords

Following the Battle of the Blackwater, Tywin serves as Hand to Joffrey and, after Joffrey's death, to King Tommen Baratheon. Tywin is then murdered by Tyrion, who flees the city.

Stannis chooses Ser Davos Seaworth to be his new Hand, as Alester is arrested for treason.

A Feast for Crows

Ser Harys Swyft and then Lord Orton Merryweather serve as Hand for Tommen's mother, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister.

A Dance with Dragons

Following Cersei's arrest by the Faith of the Seven, Lord Mace Tyrell becomes Hand of the King for Tommen.

Ser Barristan Selmy serves as Hand to Queen Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen.

Lord Jon Connington is the Hand to King Aegon VI Targaryen.

List of Known Hands

During the reign of King Hand of the King Period and Notes
Tommen Baratheon Mace Tyrell 300 AC - Present
Orton Merryweather 300 AC - 300 AC
Harys Swyft 300 AC - 300 AC
Tywin Lannister 300 AC - 300 AC. Served as Hand as well under Joffrey Baratheon and Aerys II Targaryen.
Joffrey Baratheon Tywin Lannister 298 AC - 300 AC. Served as Hand as well under Aerys II Targaryen.
Tyrion Lannister Was acting hand during his father Tywin Lannisters 2nd term as Hand, while he was campaigning in the Riverlands.
Robert Baratheon Eddard Stark 298 AC - 298 AC
Jon Arryn 283 AC - 298 AC
Aerys II Targaryen Lord Rossart 283 AC - 283 AC. Was Hand for a fortnight.
Qarlton Chelsted 283 AC - 283 AC. He bravely resigned his position over Aerys' plan to burn King's Landing and was subsequently burned alive for it.
Jon Connington 282 AC - 283 AC. Fired from his office and exiled after losing the Battle of the Bells.
Owen Merryweather 281 AC - 283 AC
Tywin Lannister 262 AC - 281 AC
Jaehaerys II Targaryen Unknown 259 AC - 262 AC
Aegon V Targaryen Unknown 233 AC - 259 AC
Maekar I Targaryen Unknown 221 AC - 233 AC
Aerys I Targaryen Brynden Rivers 209 AC - 221 AC. In the end, he was stripped of office by Maekar I and locked into the Black Cells.
Daeron II Targaryen Prince Valarr Targaryen 209 AC - 209 AC
Prince Baelor Targaryen 196 AC - 209 AC
Lord Hayford 196 AC - 196 AC. Died at the Redgrass Field.
Ambrose Butterwell Unknown - 196 AC
Aegon IV Targaryen Lord Butterwell Unknown - Unknown
Viserys II Targaryen Unknown 171 AC - 172 AC
Baelor I Targaryen Prince Viserys Targaryen 161 AC - 171 AC
Daeron I Targaryen Prince Viserys Targaryen 157 AC - 161 AC
Aegon III Targaryen Prince Viserys Targaryen Unknown - 157 AC
Unknown 131 AC - Unknown. Several Regents and Hands followed in the Regent Wars.
Aegon II Targaryen Criston Cole 130 AC - 130 AC. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Otto Hightower 129 AC - 130 AC
Viserys I Targaryen Otto Hightower 120 AC - 129 AC. Reinstated after predecessor's death.
Lyonel Strong 109 AC - 120 AC. Died in a fire at Harrenhal.
Otto Hightower 103 AC - 109 AC. Removed as Hand, after pushing the inheritance of his daughter's sons over Princess Rhaenyra.
Jaehaerys I Targaryen Otto Hightower 101 AC - 103 AC. Succeeded Baelon
Prince Baelon Targaryen Unknown - 101 AC
Ryam Redwyne Unknown - Unknown. Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Septon Barth Served as Hand for forty years.
Maegor I Targaryen Unknown 42 AC - 48 AC
Aenys I Targaryen Prince Maegor Targaryen 37 AC - 42 AC
Orys Baratheon 37 AC - 37 AC
Aegon I Targaryen Orys Baratheon 1 AC - 37 AC. First ever Hand of the King.

Hand of the King brooch, from Game of Thrones

Time unknown

A list of some of the worst Hands, whose names are remembered as a warning to future generations.

Hands of Claimants to the Iron Throne


The Hand of the King was the second-most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms. He spoke with the king’s voice, commanded the king’s armies, drafted the king’s laws. At times he even sat upon the Iron Throne to dispense king's justice, when the king was absent, or sick, or otherwise indisposed. Robert was offering him a responsibility as large as the realm itself. It was the last thing in the world he wanted.[1]

- thoughts of Eddard Stark

I sat on his council for fifteen years, helping Jon Arryn rule his realm while Robert drank and whored, but when Jon died, did my brother name me his Hand? No, he went galloping off to his dear friend Ned Stark, and offered him the honor. And small good it did either of them.[3]

- Stannis Baratheon to Cressen

A weak ruler needs a strong Hand, as Aerys needed Father. A strong ruler requires only a diligent servant to carry out his orders.[4]

- Cersei Lannister to Jaime Lannister

The Hand should speak with the king's voice.[5]

- thoughts of Davos Seaworth

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
  2. Bubonicon Report, August 25, 2012 So Spake Martin
  3. A Clash of Kings, Prologue, p 17.
  4. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  5. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 19, Davos III.