Night's Watch

From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
Revision as of 14:10, 2 December 2011 by Arthur88 (talk | contribs) (History)
Jump to: navigation, search
The wall by MarcSimonetti.jpg

The Night's Watch is the military order, which is dedicated to holding the Wall, the immense fortification which on the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms; and defending the realms of man from what lies North of the wall. The order foundation dates back to the Age of Heroes, at the time when the Others were pushed back. The men of Night's Watch wear only black.

History

The Night Watch is probably the oldest order in Seven Kingdoms, as it survived the fall of the kingdoms of the First Men following the Andal Invasion and the War of Conquest. It was founded over 8,000 years ago, after the period known as the Long Night, when under cover of the endless night that lasted for a generation, the Others invaded from the Lands of Always Winter, laying waste to much of Westeros, until the Others were finally defeated by the Night's Watch at the Battle for the Dawn. After having pushed back this threat, the Wall was built by Brandon the Builder in order to protect the Seven Kingdoms, should the Others ever return.

But other than the corrupting of the thirteenth Lord Commander named the "Night's King", attacks by the Others never came. Instead, the most frequent attacks came from the Wildlings led by their kings or on their constant raids and little by little, the Night Watch came to forget that its main mission was not the fight against the Wildlings, but against the Others. The Wall seeming quite sufficient for that, the purpose of the Guard was less and less obvious, and its manpower decreased more and more, with most of the Seven Kingdoms neglecting this border. Only the North, particularly the Starks have the memory of the old days, but, even here, the Others are mostly no more than vague figures in stories told to frighten children.

Before the time of Aegon I conquered Westeros, the Night's Watch boasted nineteen castles along the hundred leagues of the Wall, accounting over ten thousand men at arms with Castle Black quartered five thousand fighting men with all their horses, servants, and equipment. The highborn of the North have traditionally considered it an honor to serve on the Wall; many younger sons of northern families, who were not in line of succession, would have take the vow. Today, only three castles remain in use and the Night's Watch number in fewer than 1,000 men. Not only that, but the Night's Watch is now largely made up of the misfits of the kingdoms: peasants, debtors, poachers, rapers, thieves, and bastards. Only a few of the noble and knightly houses have members at Night's Watch most high-born that serve were sent because they fought on the wrong side of a war or fell afoul of political machinations.


Organization

Structure

The Night's Watch consists of three orders: Rangers, Builders and Stewards. All of them are subject to the Lord Commander and Each of the three orders is led by its own officer, called First Ranger, First Builder, and First Steward. These officers are appointed by the Lord Commander.[1]

  • Rangers, The rangers are the main fightin force, they are adept at surviving in the wilderness and are tasked with scouting and patrolling the Haunted Forest beyond the Wall. they are actively defending the wall and riding out to face the Watch's enemies, including the lawless wildlings as well as the mysterious inhuman Others.[2]
  • Builders, The builders are responsible for maintaining the Wall, the castles and the equipment.They provide masons, carpenters, miners, and woodsmen. [2]
  • Stewards, is the largest of the three orders, The Stewards are responsible for an assortment of critical functions, providing vital day-to-day services. They hunt and farm, tend horses, gather firewood, cook meals, make clothing, maintain weapons and lastly they conduct trade with the south, bringing back to the Wall all of the supplies needed by the Night’s Watch.[2] like other members of the Watch, the stewards must be ready to fight at a moment’s notice, and all have received at least basic combat training.
    Among the Stewards, those with skill in sums or reading or writing might be given specialised tasks as well. Few enough are literate, and the Watch has a purpose for every man. Stewards also serve as attendants and squires for the high officers of the Watch, such as the Lord Commander. In short, the entire administration of the Night’s Watch is in the hands of the Stewards.

Leadership

The Lord Commander of the Night's Watch is the final authority and oversees the entire order. Any man of the Night's Watch can be nominated to be the Lord Commander; a Lord Commander serves in office until the day he dies, when a new Lord Commander is elected by the men of the Watch. It is strongly suggested by the author that the Lord Commander is usually a ranger. This may be gainsaid by a passage in A Game of Thrones in which Jon Snow is appointed a steward and not, to his disappointment, a ranger, and assigned as the personal steward of the current Lord Commander. His peers take it for granted that this means Snow is being groomed for leadership. A combination of these two theories may indicate a "fast track", on which suitable candidates for the Lordship Commander may be placed, giving them experience in each of three disciplines, regardless of in which they are initially placed. Ultimately, though, as detailed elsewhere, the position of Lord Commander is filled by an election, so no-one, even fast-tracked, can be guaranteed it.

The majority of the officers and leadership of the Watch pulls its men from the upper crust of Westerosi society. A aristocratic or knighted man is almost guaranteed a position as an officer in the Watch but there are several powerful and influential brothers that are of common blood such as the senior rangers Qhorin the Half-Hand, Blane and Cotter Pyke, commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and a bastard-born pirate. The watch, as a meritocracy, is one of the few places in feudal Westeros where a common man can rise high and even gain command over knights and Lords, rising as far as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.

Recruitment

Once, serving on the Wall was honor a sign of selfless devotion to duty, with many Knights, honourable men and nobles who took the black voluntarily. Today, the Night’s Watch is beginning to be seen as only a way to avoid punishment suitable less for Knights now than for the dregs of Westeros, salvaged from dungeons by traveling recruiters. Disgraced nobles, bastards, and even the unwanted legitimate offspring of nobles are also “encouraged” to take the black, making many of today’s Watch a surly and dissatisfied lot.

Those who come voluntarily are free to leave during any time of their training but no men may leave after he said the wovs "taken the black", desertion are punished by death. after taking the wovs, they cannot own any land, marry, or father children and the life is hard , they start a new life, with their previous crimes forgiven, their old ties are broken.

Men of the Night's Watch are garbed all in black, a tradition that earned them the nickname "crows". While some use this name derogatorily, many in the Night's Watch have adopted the term for their own use. They are also called "the black brothers".

Vows

When the recruits are considered ready to "take the black", they have to take the vows, either in a sept if they are of the Faith of the Seven, or before a heart tree if they follow the Old Gods of the Forest. This is the vow that binds a man to the Nights Watch:

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all nights to come

It's customary to finish a black brother eulogy with the words, "And now his watch is ended".

Possessions

Castles of the Night's Watch

Abandoned Stronghold of the Night's Watch by MarcSimonetti ©

The Night's Watch raised nineteen castles to guarded the hundred leagues of the Wall, however they had never manned more than seventeen at one time. Today only few of them are maintained by an ever dwindling force. These castles, of course, are more garrisons, composed of mostly barracks, stables, storehouses, towers and out-buildings as they have no walls of their own(other then THE wall) and cannot be considered "true" castles. They were purposefully built in this fashion so the Watch could man the Wall itself and defend against threats from the north but be unable to repel attacks from the south should the Watch ever raise in rebellion. Presently, due to manpower shortages, the Watch only mans the Shadow Tower,Castle Black and Eastwatch although there are plans to regarrison the Nightfort. The question of who will be responsible for this is a point of tension between the Jon Snow Lord Commander of the Watch and King Stannis Baratheon. Patrols between the castles used to be more regular, but as the manpower of the Night's Watch diminished, so did the number of patrols. Now the Watch uses mules to ride atop the wall, since the Wall has not been graveled between the older castles in a long time. The mules are bred at Eastwatch and are specially trained for their duties.[3]


Night's Watch castles listed from west to east
Westwatch-by-the-Bridge · Shadow Tower · Sentinel Stand · Greyguard · Stonedoor · Hoarfrost Hill · Icemark · Nightfort · Deep Lake · Queensgate· Castle Black · Oakensheild · Woodswatch-by-the-Pool · Sable Hall · Rimegate · Long Barrow · Torches · Greenguard · Eastwatch-by-the-sea


Most notable are
  • Castle Black, The largest maintained castle, located at the northern end of Kingsroad and is held by nearly six hundred Brothers.
  • Shadow Tower, Most western outpost of the watch, it's garrisoned by two hundred men of the Night's Watch
  • Eastwatch, Port town of the Night's Watch and has the smallest standing garrison of the Night's Watch.


  • Nightfort, the oldest and largest castle of the Night's Watch, houses the The Black Gate (an ancient door fashioned from weirwood which only opens to a Sworn Brother of the Night's Watch) through the Wall
  • Deep Lake, built 7 miles east of The Nightfort, and paid for by Good Queen Alysanne
  • Queensgate, originally called Snowgate, renamed to 'Queensgate' after Good Queen Alysanne slept there for one night

The 'Gift' and the 'New Gift'

"The Gift" is a tract of land measuring twenty-five leagues southward from the Wall that the Night's Watch received from long-dead King Brandon Stark of the North. For years, the Watch farmed the Gift but as the organization dwindled there were fewer hands to plow the fields, tend the bees, and plant the orchards, so the wild reclaimed much of the area. Wishing to restore the Night's Watch and reward its loyal service in defence of the realm, Queen Alysanne, wife of King Jaehaerys the Conciliator, doubled the extent of the Gift. Towns and villages that were located within the "New Gift" supported the Night's Watch by their taxes, rendered by goods and labor. In time, the New Gift lost population as people moved south, into the mountains or into the Umber lands east of the Kingsroad to avoid Wildling raids, further reducing the support structure for the Night's Watch and the Wall.[4]

The nearest point of civilization to the Wall is Mole's Town, a subterranean settlement whose brothel is frequently patronized by brothers of the Night's Watch.

Ships

The Night's Watch employs a few ships and occasionally combats with them. Known Night's Watch ships include the Blackbird; the Storm Crow; and the Talon.

Notable Members

Recent Lords Commander

  • Lord Jeor Mormont, 997th Lord Commander of the Watch, known as "The Old Bear". During the later part of his tenure, he became increasingly worried as more rangers were lost beyond the Wall, including First Ranger Benjen Stark. Also, there were more reports coming in of wildlings either fleeing south or gathering in large numbers to escape or meet some threat. After an attempt to investigate in force, most of the brothers who went with him were killed at the Battle of the Fist of the First Men. Following this staggering loss, he was murdered by his own rangers during a mutiny.
  • Lord Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.

Past Lords Commander

  • 'Night's King'. 13th Lord Commander who converted the Night's Watch into his own personal army and led it in battle against the King of the North and Joramun, the King-Beyond-the-Wall.
  • Lord Qorgyle. Lord Commander of the Night's Watch before Lord Jeor Mormont and a member of House Qorgyle. His first name is never given.
  • Runcel Hightower. Tried to make the position of Lord Commander hereditary and pass the position to his son.
  • Rodrik Flint. Thought to make himself King-beyond-the-Wall.
  • Tristan Mudd, Mad Marq Rankenfell and Robin Hill. Three Lords Commander who nearly destroyed the Watch when they forgot their vows in favor of their pride and ambition.
  • Osric Stark. He was a brother or son of a King in the North. He was chosen Lord Commander when he was 10 making him the youngest Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He served for 60 years [5].
  • Brynden Rivers, aka "Bloodraven", Sent to the Wall ca. 233 AL by King Aegon V, he eventually became Lord Commander.
  • Unknown brother of Harren the Black. Stayed on the Wall while his brother burned at Harrenhal. [6]
  • Sleepy Jack. He was Lord Commander of the Night's Watch when Raymun Redbeard crossed the Wall and was late for the Battle of Long Lake.

Brothers

  • Beardless Dick. A ranger.
  • Benjen Stark. First Ranger and younger brother to Lord Eddard Stark. Missing beyond the Wall and thought dead.
  • Blane. A senior ranger of common blood, scout and second to the Half-Hand. Killed while in command of the Shadow Tower Men during the Battle at the Fist of the First Men.
  • Bowen Marsh. Lord Steward of the Night's Watch. Led a successful but costly battle against wildling raiders in the Gap, west of the Shadow Tower.
  • Chett. Former steward to Maester Aemon until Samwell Tarly was raised to the post. Sent to the pens to take care of the dogs. Later, he conspired to kill Jeor Mormont, but was slain and turned into a wight..
  • Cotter Pyke. Commanding at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
  • Donal Noye. One-armed blacksmith at Castle Black. He was personal blacksmith to House Baratheon and made Robert's warhammer before losing an arm during Greyjoy's Rebellion. He died fighting Mag the Mighty, King of the Giants, underneath the Wall during the Battle of Castle Black.
  • Eddison Tollett. A steward, called "Dolorous Edd" for his sarcastic and black humor.
  • Jarmen Buckwell. A senior ranger. Survived the Battle of the Fist of the First Men and retreated back to Castle Black.[7]
  • Lord Denys Mallister. Commander at The Shadow Tower.
  • Lord Janos Slynt. Former commander of the City Watch in King's Landing, later Lord of Harrenhal, and finally a Brother of the Watch. A political lackey of House Lannister, he was exiled to the Wall by Tyrion Lannister, who wanted to rid King's Landing of corruption and himself of Lord Slynt. Tyrion's father Tywin Lannister later tried to make Slynt a tool of House Lannister in the Watch, and nearly turned the election for a new Lord Commander in Slynt's favor.
  • Maester Aemon. Maester of Castle Black and one of the last Targaryens. Died of old age at sea with Samwell Tarly.
  • Mallador Locke. Knight and ranger. Killed during the Battle of the Fist of the First Men.
  • Othell Yarwyck. First Builder of the Night's Watch.
  • Qhorin Halfhand. Second in command at The Shadow Tower and a ranger of much repute. He allowed Jon Snow to kill him so that Snow would be accepted among the wildlings.
  • Thoren Smallwood. Acting First Ranger after Benjen Stark's disappearance and Jarmen Buckwell's death. Killed by a wight bear during the Battle of the Fist of First Men.
  • Samwell Tarly. Son of renowned battle commander Randyll Tarly. An obese and admitted coward. Sent by Lord Snow to the Citadel for study after the Battle on the Fist of the First Men.
  • Ser Jaremy Rykker. A senior ranger and knight. Killed by a wight at Castle Black.
  • Ser Waymar Royce. Novice ranger and knight, slain by an Other.
  • Ser Wynton Stout. An elderly ranger.
  • Small Paul. A simple-minded brother. He was part of a conspiracy to kill Jeor Mormont until the Brothers were attacked at the Fist of the First Men. He saves Samwell Tarly, but was slain by an Other and returned as a Wight.
  • Stonesnake. Ranger from the Shadow Tower. Companion to Qhorin Half-Hand and the most accomplished mountain climber in the Watch. Missing and presumed dead after trying to cross the Frostfangs alone and on foot.
  • Yoren. Senior "wandering crow" or recruiter for the Watch. He attempted to smuggle Arya Stark to the North, but was killed fighting Lannister men who were searching for the outlaw Beric Dondarrion.


See also List of all known members of the Night's Watch


References and Notes

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Night's Watch. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Night's Watch. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.