True knight

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Ser Duncan the Tall, by Mike S Miller ©

The true knight is a concept that embodies all that a knight should aspire to be - exemplifying all the qualities of what knighthood stands for. He is a shining example to all and held in the very highest esteem. Very few knights are considered true knights, as achieving and maintaining such high and noble ideals is a hard duty.

Culture

There are Westerosi songs and stories, particularly those depicting honorable knights and chivalry, that are very popular amongst all strata of society. In particular, Sansa Stark is captivated by the concept of the true knight.[1]

A true knight must fully embrace the oath of knighthood:

In the name of the Warrior I charge you to be brave. In the name of the Father I charge you to be just. In the name of the Mother I charge you to defend the young and innocent. In the name of the Maid I charge you to protect all women.[2]

Chivalric code

Ser Arthur Dayne, by Henning Ludvigsen © Fantasy Flight Games

True knights are supposed to:

  • Be brave and just.
  • Defend the young and innocent, especially women who can not defend themselves.[3][4][5][6]
  • Be cleanly as well as godly.[2]
  • Act with military courtesy: in combat when nobles and knights are taken prisoner, their lives are spared and are often held for ransom.

Alleged True Knights

Quotes

Sansa Stark assures Sandor Clegane that his brother Gregor is no true knight. Art by Heliotropa©

This man protected the weak, as every true knight must.[2]

Knights are sworn to defend the weak, protect women, and fight for the right, but none of them did a thing. Only Ser Dontos had tried to help, and he was no longer a knight. No more than the Imp was, nor the Hound … the Hound hated knights … I hate them too. They are no true knights, not one of them.[3]

—thoughts of Sansa Stark after being beaten by Boros Blount

Sansa: True knights protect the weak.
Sandor: There are no true knights, no more than there are gods. If you can't protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can. Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, don't ever believe any different.[7]

A true knight must defend the gentler sex.[4]

You are a true knight, Ser Lyle, to help a lady in distress.[5]

Old or young, a true knight is sworn to protect those who are weaker than himself, or die in the attempt.[6]

—thoughts of Brienne of Tarth

It is chivalry which makes a true knight, not a sword. Without honor, a knight is no more than a common killer. It is better to die with honor than to live without it.[8]

Barristan Selmy to his squires

References