The Iron Throne is the seat of the Lord of 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.
- 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.
The Iron Throne is an asymmetric 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.
Since the construction of the Red Keep in King's Landing, 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. When the king is presiding, only he, his family, and his council may sit; all others must stand or kneel. During the rule of the Targaryens, the throne room was decorated with the skulls of their dragons.
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. Upon his ascension, several rebellions broke out over Westeros. During Aenys's rule, the Faith of the Seven suffered numerous (though unintentional) slights; the final straw was when Aenys had his son and heir wed to his daughter. This incestuous marriage enraged the Faith and led to the Faith Militant uprising against the Iron Throne. Aenys died later that year, some say by illness, others murder.
Due to the scheming of Dowager Queen Visenya Targaryen, her son Maegor took the Throne rather then the late King Aenys's eldest son. Maegor the Cruel was a harsh ruler - his response to the Faith's rebellion was bloody and ferocious, resulting in the deaths of thousands in battle, slaughter and dragonfire. The carnage lasted through all of Maegor's reign. During Maegor's reign, construction of the Red Keep was completed, and to preserve its secrets, Maegor had all its builders put to death. Maegor was killed atop the Iron Throne; some say the throne itself killed him.
Due to Maegor dying with no issue, his successor was King Aenys's last surviving son Jaehaerys. Jaehaerys ended the Faith's uprising peacefully, and brought peace and prosperity to the realm for over fifty years. He was succeeded by his grandson.
King Viserys I Targaryen reigned over a time of peace and plenty for the Seven Kingdoms continuing the legacy of his grandfather, Jaehaerys the Wise.
However, upon Viserys's death there was a succession dispute between his eldest 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, 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. Aegon II eventually had Rhaenyra executed, but his rule was short and he was killed by poison half a year later.
After his death, Rhaenyra's son Aegon III took the throne, and Jaehaera Targaryen, the daughter of Aegon II, as his wife and queen. 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. Aegon III was considered a broken King who brooded throughout his reign. He became known as Aegon Dragonbane when the last of the Targaryen Dragons died during his rule.
Dorne had long been a source of frustration to the Targaryens. Upon taking the throne at the age of fourteen in 157 AC, Aegon's son King Daeron I almost immediately launched an [[Conquest of Dorne|invasion of Dorne. This was an attempt to finish Aegon the Conqueror's work and unify all the seven original kingdoms and the rule of the Iron Throne. His campaign was a success, but the rebellious Dornishmen made holding Dorne 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 at age eighteen while trying to solidify control of the area, after the Dornishmen rose in rebellion.
He died in 171 AC, and was succeeded by his uncle, King Viserys II, the tenth Targaryen to sit the Iron Throne. Viserys reigned for only a year, but it said he truly ruled and preserved the land for much longer, as he had been the Hand during the time of his brother Aegon III's reign, as well as the reigns of his nephews Daeron and Baelor.
Viserys's son, King Aegon IV, would be remembered as Aegon the Unworthy, held to be the worst king in the history of the Seven Kingdoms. This was in part because he legitimized all of his bastards on his deathbed, planting the seeds for the Blackfyre Pretenders.
Aegon's trueborn son King Daeron II Targaryen brought Dorne peacefully into the Seven Kingdoms through a dual marriage pact. Daeron the Good won 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 his second son, Aerys I, a bookish man who left most of the running of the realm to his Hand, Brynden Rivers. The Second and Third Blackfyre Rebellion happened during his rule.
Aerys's death without issue let to the crowning of his younger brother, Maekar I Targaryen, who ruled a dozen mostly peaceful years.
Maekar was followed by his son Aegon V, who became known as "the Unlikely" because he was the fourth son of a fourth son. The Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion was put down during Aegon's reign. Aegon perished in the tragedy of Summerhall.
Next came the sickly Jaehaerys II, Aegon's second son. Though frail, he was wise and ruled well in his short reign of three years. House Blackfyre was finally exterminated in the male line during his reign, in the final Blackfyre rebellion known as the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
Jaehaerys 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, which erupted after Aerys's unjust executions and other atrocities, 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.
Lord Robert Baratheon of Storm's End ascended to the Iron Throne in 283 AC, after successfully leading the rebellion against the Targaryens. The fact that Aerys Targaryen was slain by a Lannister spared Robert from being labeled a kingslayer. The dragon skulls in the throne room were replaced with hunting tapestries.
Six years after Robert's ascension, 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.
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's bastardy leads Robert's younger 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 of the North 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: 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 holds the Iron Throne as regent on behalf of her son, the young Tommen. However, after she re-establishes the Faith Militant, she is arrested by the Faith of the Seven for various crimes. King of the Iron Islands Euron Greyjoy tells the ironborn they can conquer all of Westeros.
A Dance with Dragons
List of Kings
- 1 AC-37 AC: Aegon I Targaryen, also known as "the Conqueror" and "the Dragon"
- 37 AC-42 AC: Aenys I Targaryen
- 42 AC-48 AC: Maegor I Targaryen, also known as "the Cruel"
- 48 AC-103 AC: Jaehaerys I Targaryen, also known as "the Conciliator" and "the Wise"
- 103 AC-129 AC: Viserys I Targaryen
- 129 AC-131 AC: Aegon II Targaryen, also called "the Usurper"
- 131 AC-157 AC: Aegon III Targaryen, also known as "the Dragonbane"
- 157 AC-161 AC: Daeron I Targaryen, also known as "the Young Dragon"
- 161 AC-171 AC: Baelor I Targaryen, also known as "the Blessed" and "the Beloved"
- 171 AC-172 AC: Viserys II Targaryen
- 172 AC-184 AC: Aegon IV Targaryen, also known as "the Unworthy"
- 184 AC-209 AC: Daeron II Targaryen, also known as "the Good"
- 209 AC-221 AC: Aerys I Targaryen
- 221 AC-233 AC: Maekar I Targaryen
- 233 AC-259 AC: Aegon V Targaryen, also known as "the Unlikely"
- 259 AC-262 AC: Jaehaerys II Targaryen
- 262 AC-283 AC: Aerys II Targaryen, also known as "the Mad King" and "King Scab"
- 283 AC-298 AC: Robert I Baratheon, also called "the Usurper"
- 298 AC-300 AC: Joffrey I Baratheon, sometimes called "the Falseborn"
- 300 AC-Present: Tommen I Baratheon
Claimants to the Iron Throne
- 129 AC-130 AC: Rhaenyra Targaryen, also known as "the Realm's Delight", Princess of Dragonstone, the rightful heir to Viserys I Targaryen; she was usurped by her half-brother, Aegon II Targaryen. This led to the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.
- 196 AC-196 AC: Daemon I Blackfyre, the first of the Blackfyre Pretenders, trying to claim the throne during the First Blackfyre Rebellion.
- 211 AC: Daemon II Blackfyre, plotting to claim the throne during the Second Blackfyre Rebellion. The second of the Blackfyre Pretenders.
- 219 AC: Haegon I Blackfyre, trying to claim the throne during the Third Blackfyre Rebellion. The third of the Blackfyre Pretenders.
- 236 AC: Daemon III Blackfyre, trying to claim the throne during the Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion. The fourth of the Blackfyre Pretenders.
- 260 AC: Maelys I Blackfyre, trying to claim the throne during the War of the Ninepenny Kings. The fifth and last of the Blackfyre Pretenders.
- 283 AC-298 AC: Viserys Targaryen, the Beggar King, styling himself as Viserys III Targaryen; killed by the Dothraki for violating the laws of Vaes Dothrak.
- 298 AC-Present: Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea.
- 298 AC-299 AC: Renly I Baratheon, Lord of Storm's End; killed by a shadow.
- 299 AC-Present: Stannis I Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone.
- 300 AC-Present: Aegon Targaryen, the son of the late Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.
Quotes about the Iron Throne
I swear to you, sitting a throne is a thousand times harder than winning one.
This is war, this is what it looks like, this is the price of the Iron Throne.
– Daenerys Targaryen's thoughts
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.
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.
– Jaime Lannister's thoughts
I will claim the Iron Throne by myself, with your swords and your allegiance.
References and Notes
- George R.R. Martin: This is what the Iron Throne REALLY looks like
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 25, Tyrion VI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Aenys I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Maegor I.
- The Princess and the Queen.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard XIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 61, Daenerys VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.