Iron Throne

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According to George R. R. Martin this painting is close to how he envisions the Iron Throne [1] - by Marc Simonetti ©
Balerion helps forge the Iron Throne - art by Lindsey Burcar ©
Workers help Balerion forge the Iron Throne


The Iron Throne by Nicole Cardiff ©
The Iron Throne from Game of Thrones

The Iron Throne is the seat of kings in the Seven Kingdoms and is often used as a metonymic device to refer to the king's authority. The king often holds audiences and dispenses justice from atop it in the Red Keep's throne room. Only the Hand of the King may sit on the throne in the king's absence. The chair itself is cold and hard, with many jagged edges.[2]


See also: Images of the Iron Throne

The Iron Throne was constructed by Aegon I Targaryen, the first king of the Seven Kingdoms. Aegon the Conqueror had the throne made from the swords surrendered by his enemies. It is supposed to have taken a thousand blades to make, heated in the breath of Balerion the Black Dread. The hammering took fifty-nine days.[3]

The Iron Throne is an assymetric monstrosity of spikes and jagged edges and twisted metal. It is uncomfortable, and the back is fanged with steel which makes leaning back impossible. Aegon I had it made this way deliberately, saying that a king should never sit easy. King Aerys II Targaryen, the "Mad King," was always cutting himself upon it, and it is said that the throne itself has caused the deaths of several people.[3]

Since the construction of the Red Keep, the Iron Throne has been located on a high platform in the throne room within the castle. Usually, the members of the Kingsguard stand guard below and when the king is presiding, only he, his family, and his council may sit. All others must stand or kneel.[3] During the rule of the Targaryens, the throne room was decorated with the skulls of their dragons.[3]


Targaryen Dynasty

Once Aegon I had conquered six of the seven kingdoms, he proclaimed himself the only king in Westeros, and the rule of the Iron Throne extended over the continent. He was acknowledged by the previous kings in the North and the Rock, and had the support of the rulers he had appointed to the Stormlands, the Riverlands and the Reach.

The first years of Targaryen reign were a period of uneasiness and turmoil. Upon King Aegon's death, his son Aenys I, born of incest and considered a weakling, took the throne. The Faith of the Seven rejected his legitimacy to rule which led to the Faith Militant uprising against the Iron Throne. Unable to deal with the crisis, King Aenys handed much of the responsibility for the war to his half-brother, Maegor, who served as the Hand of the King. He succeeded Aenys after he died five years later as Maegor I Targaryen. Maegor the Cruel was a harsh ruler - his response to the rebellion was bloody and ferocious, resulting in the deaths of thousands in battle, slaughter and dragonfire. The slaughter lasted all of Aenys and Maegor's reigns. During Maegor's reign contruction of the Red Keep was completed, and to preserve its secrets, Maegor had all its builders put to death. Maegor was murdered atop the Iron Throne; some say the throne itself killed him.[4] His successor, Jaehaerys I, brought peace to the realm for over fifty years.

King Viserys I Targaryen reigned over a time of peace and plenty for the Seven Kingdoms. However, upon his death there was a succession dispute between his elder daughter and designated heiress Rhaenyra and his younger son Aegon. This dispute led to the first major civil war in the history of the unified Seven Kingdoms, that would be known as the Dance of the Dragons. According to Septon Eustace, Rhaenyra bled after sitting the Iron Throne following the fall of King's Landing, even though she wore armor.[5] Aegon II eventually had Rhaenyra executed, but his rule was short. After his death, Rhaenyra's son Aegon III took the throne and Jaehaera Targaryen, the daughter of Aegon II, as a wife. Although the conflict had been resolved and the continuity of the Targaryen line was again assured, the war caused great damage to their power: many dragons had died during the fratricidal fighting, thus depriving them of their most valuable resource.

Dorne had long been a source of frustration to the Targaryens. Upon taking the throne in 157 AC King Daeron I, at the age of fourteen, almost immediately launched an invasion of Dorne, in an attempt to finish Aegon the Conqueror work and unify all the seven original kingdoms and the rule of the Iron Throne. His campaign was a success, he managed to invade Dorne, but the rebellious Dornishmen made holding it a costly adventure. It is said the conquest of Dorne lasted but a summer and that the Young Dragon spent ten thousand men taking Dorne and lost fifty thousand trying to hold it. Daeron himself died while trying to solidify control of the area, after the Dornishmen rose in rebellion. He died at age eighteen and was succeeded by his brother. King Baelor the Blessed proved a peaceful king and a pious man. He constructed the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing. He died in 171 AC and was succeeded by his uncle, King Viserys II, who was the tenth Targaryen to sit on the Iron Throne. He reigned for only a year but it said he truly ruled and preserved the land for much longer, as the Hand during King Baelor's time and King Daeron's before him, while he was campaigning in Dorne.

His son, King Aegon IV, would end being remembered as Aegon the Unworthy, held to be the worst king in the history of the Seven Kingdoms, in part because he legitimized all of his bastards on his deathbed, planting the seeds for the Blackfyre Pretenders.

King Daeron II Targaryen brought Dorne peacefully into the Seven Kingdoms through a dual marriage pact. Daeron the Good survived the first of the Blackfyre rebellions which ended with the death of his half-brother, Daemon Blackfyre.

Daeron died in the Great Spring Sickness and was succeeded by Aerys I, a bookish man who left most of the running of the realm to his Hand, Brynden Rivers. The Second Blackfyre Rebellion was ended at Whitewalls during his rule. Aerys's death without issue let to the crowning of his younger brother, Maekar I Targaryen, who ruled a dozen years. He was followed by his son Aegon V who became known as "the Unlikely" because he was the fourth son of a fourth son. House Blackfyre was finally exterminated in the male line during his reign in the War of the Ninepenny Kings. Aegon perished in the tragedy of Summerhall.

Next came the sickly Jaehaerys II. Though frail, he was wise and ruled well in his short reign of three years. He was followed by his son, Aerys II, who would become known as the Mad King and King Scab because of how frequently he was cut by the Iron Throne. Aerys executed Rickard and Brandon Stark in the throne room and demanded that Jon Arryn surrender Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon to the throne. Robert's Rebellion put an end to the Targaryen Dynasty on the Iron Throne after nearly 300 years. Aerys was cut down by one of his own Kingsguard, Ser Jaime Lannister, who became known as the Kingslayer. Robert was crowned king and the surviving Targaryens fled into exile in Essos.

Baratheon Dynasty

King Joffrey I Baratheon upon the Iron Throne - by Magali Villeneuve. © Fantasy Flight Games

Lord Robert Baratheon of Storm's End ascended to the Iron Throne in 283 AC after successfully leading the rebellion against the Targaryens which erupted after Aerys's unjust executions of several important lords and other atrocities. The fact that Aerys Targaryen was slain by a Lannister spared Robert from being labelled a kingslayer. The dragon skulls in the throne room were replaced with hunting tapestries.

Six years after Robert's accession, Lord Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, believing that King Robert's rule was still insecure, proclaimed independence for the Iron Islands and led a rebellion against the Iron Throne. He was proven wrong and the same coalition which won Robert's Rebellion put down Greyjoy's Rebellion and repatriated the Iron Islands.

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

King Robert Baratheon's reign comes to end after his wife, Queen Cersei Lannister, arranges his death. The eldest son of Cersei, Joffrey I Baratheon, takes the throne. Robert had acknowledged him as a trueborn son, but the father of Cersei's children is actually her twin, Jaime Lannister. The hunting tapestries which had replaced the dragon skulls are taken down from the throne room.

After Joffrey capriciously orders the beheading of Lord Eddard Stark, the North claims independence and secedes from the Iron Throne. Joffrey being a bastard leads Robert's brothers, Stannis and Renly Baratheon, to put forward their own claims to the Iron Throne.

A Clash of Kings

The Seven Kingdoms are thrown into turmoil during the War of the Five Kings. Renly is assassinated and Stannis is defeated at the Blackwater. The Greyjoys enter the war out of opportunism to re-establish independence for the Iron Islands.

A Storm of Swords

After two years of bitter fighting and the death of King Robb Stark in the Red Wedding, the war is believed to have largely ended. Despite Joffrey's victory, he is poisoned at his own wedding feast in the throne room and his younger brother Tommen Baratheon is crowned in his place. Tommen is controlled by his advisors and his mother, Queen Regent Cersei, and his grandfather, Tywin Lannister, who serves as Tommen's Hand of the King.

A Feast for Crows

Following the death of Tywin, Cersei controls the Iron Throne on behalf of her son, the young Tommen. She is arrested by the Faith of the Seven, however. King Euron Greyjoy tells the ironborn they can conquer all of Westeros.

A Dance with Dragons

Tommen continues to hold the Iron Throne, but Stannis still maintains his claim while in the North. The Golden Company begin their campaign to place Aegon VI Targaryen on the throne.

Kings on the Iron throne.png

List of Kings

Claimants to the Iron Throne

Quotes about the Iron Throne

Marc Simonetti ©

He spoke truly, it is a monstrous uncomfortable chair. In more ways than one.[6]

Robert Baratheon, to Eddard Stark

I swear to you, sitting a throne is a thousand times harder than winning one.

Robert Baratheon, to Eddard Stark

Seat Stannis on the Iron Throne and I promise you, the realm will bleed.[7]

Petyr Baelish, to Eddard Stark

This is war, this is what it looks like, this is the price of the Iron Throne.[8]

Daenerys Targaryen's thoughts

They can keep their red castle and their iron chair as well.[9]

Rickard Karstark

Have you ever seen the Iron Throne? The barbs along the back, the ribbons of twisted steel, the jagged ends of swords and knives all tangled up and melted? It is not a comfortable seat, ser. Aerys cut himself so often men took to calling him King Scab, and Maegor the Cruel was murdered in that chair. By that chair, to hear some tell it. It is not a seat where a man can rest at ease. Ofttimes I wonder why my brothers wanted it so desperately.[4]

Stannis Baratheon, to Davos Seaworth

By the end the Mad King had become so fearful that he would allow no blade in his presence, save for the swords his Kingsguard wore. His beard was matted and unwashed, his hair a silver-gold tangle that reached his waist, his fingernails cracked yellow claws nine inches long. Yet still the blades tormented him, the ones he could never escape, the blades of the Iron Throne. His arms and legs were always covered with scabs and half-healed cuts.[10]

Jaime Lannister's thoughts

If Daenerys is no more than a sweet young girl, the Iron Throne will cut her into sweet young pieces.[11]

Tyrion Lannister, to Illyrio Mopatis

I will claim the Iron Throne by myself, with your swords and your allegiance.

- Aegon Targaryen, to the Golden Company

References and Notes