Difference between revisions of "Tywin Lannister"

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Ser [[Kevan Lannister]] thinks of Tywin and how Tywin would never have dreamed his own golden [[Cersei Lannister|daughter]] would experience a similar fate (a walk of shame) as Tywin made their fathers mistress suffer. {{Ref|aDwD|Epilogue}}
Ser [[Kevan Lannister]] thinks of Tywin and how Tywin would never have dreamed his own golden [[Cersei Lannister|daughter]] would experience a similar fate (a walk of shame) as Tywin made their fathers mistress suffer. {{Ref|aDwD|Epilogue}}
Tywin Lannister spent his whole life maintaining Lannister prestige, under his rule House Lannister grew both strong, powerful and feared.  
Tywin Lannister spent his whole life maintaining Lannister prestige, under his rule House Lannister grew both strong, powerful and feared.  

Revision as of 17:26, 18 June 2013

House Lannister.png
House Lannister.png
Tywin Lannister
Tywin Portrait by Amoka©

Alias The Lion of Lannister
The Old Lion
The Great Lion of the Rock
Title Lord of Casterly Rock
Shield of Lannisport
Warden of the West
Hand of the King
Savior of the City (of King's Landing)
Allegiance House Lannister
Born In +/- 242 AC
Died In 300 AC, at King's Landing
Spouse Joanna Lannister
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (Appears)
A Clash of Kings (Appears)
A Storm of Swords (Appears)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (Mentioned)

Played by Charles Dance
TV series Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3
Tywin appointed as Aerys II King's Hand

Tywin Lannister is Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport and Warden of the West. The head of House Lannister, Tywin is one of the most powerful lords in Westeros, and is the father of Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion Lannister. He loves his children Jaime and Cersei, but despises Tyrion. This is partly because Tyrion is deformed, but also Tywin blames his son for causing his beloved wife Joanna's death during his birth, as well as for shaming the family name with his frequent whoring.

Character and Appearance

Tywin Lannister is a calculating, intelligent, politically astute, ruthless, and controlling man. Tywin dedicated his life and efforts into maintaining the Lannisters' prestige, ensuring House Lannister is respected or at least feared. He is a proven battle commander and politician and has a very powerful presence combined with an unflinching gaze that can make lesser men swiftly turn away.

Tywin is a tall, slender, broad-shouldered man in his fifties. He has kept his head shaved ever since he started going bald, but grows out bushy golden side-whiskers and has green eyes flecked with gold. In battle, he wears deep crimson armor highlighted with gold, with a cloth-of-gold cape.[1] See also this collection of images.


Early life

Tywin was born to Tytos Lannister. Not much is known of Tywin’s childhood, but his early years were formative ones, shaping his mind and resolve for the life that lay ahead of him. Tywin was forced to watch his mighty house nearly brought to ruin through his father's actions. His father while a gentle and amiable man was also weak willed and eager to please, loans went unpaid and his bannermen did what they pleased mocking him in their cups or openly defying him. Perhaps the most important moment for Tywin was the realization of what power meant, which was driven home when his father, tried to quell Lord Tarbeck, his most disloyal bannermen by having him imprisoned. Lord Tarbeck's wife responded by capturing three Lannisters and threatening to harm them if her husband was not returned. Tywin counseled his father to send Lord Tarbeck back to his Lady in three pieces, but Tytos was a gentler man than that, and he caved in to Lady Tarbecks demands further weakening the position of their house.[2]

As a result of his father's follies Tywin Lannister never laughed as he mistrusted laughter, hearing too much of it directed at his father and House Lannister in his youth. Tywin also seldom smiled when he was young and never smiled again after his wife's death.[3]

In power

House Lannister's reputation was low because of Tywin's weak father, Tytos.[4] Tywin had to take ruthless steps to rectify the situation restoring the family honor and fortune from its near ruin. Tywin took upon himself the task of putting down his two most unruly houses, House Tarbeck and House Reyne, for their defiance. He did so with ruthless efficiency, destroying both houses entirely so that their lines were ended, leaving their ruined and shattered castles as a mute testimony to the fate that awaits those who scorn the power of Casterly Rock.[5] Such was the brutality of Tywin's destruction of House Reyne that a song called "The Rains of Castamere" was written as a tribute to the event. Indeed when Lord Farman of Faircastle grew truculent Tywin sent a messenger with a lute instead of a letter and once the "Rains of Castamere" was played Lord Farman caused no further trouble.

When Tywin's father Tytos finally keeled over of a burst heart while climbing a flight of steps to visit his mistress,[6] Tywin became the Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West. Upon his father's death Tywin found his father's mistress trying on one of his late mother's gowns. A common-born woman and the daughter of a chandler, the mistress dominated Tytos utterly, ordering about the household knights and dismissing servants and helping herself to his late wife's jewelery.[4] Tywin had her stripped naked and forced the sobbing woman to walk the streets of Lannisport to confess to every man she met that she was a thief and a harlot before banishing her from the Westerlands.[6]

Tywin married his cousin Joanna Lannister and from all reports the marriage was a happy one. Genna Lannister said that Tywin smiled on the day he wed Joanna.[3] It was said that though Tywin ruled the Seven Kingdoms (as Hand) he was ruled at home by his lady wife. Joanna gave him twins that he hoped would one day be Lord of Casterly Rock and Queen of Westeros, but then disaster struck when his beloved wife died giving birth to Tyrion, considered a hideous monster. Tywin was devastated by Joanna's untimely death and took no further wife. Gerion Lannister once told his nephew Tyrion that the best part of Tywin died when Joanna did.[7]

Tywin's ability came to the attention of King Aerys II Targaryen, who, impressed with the young and capable heir to Casterly Rock, appointed Tywin, who was twenty at that time, to be his Hand of the King. Tywin proved himself a brilliant administrator and held the post for twenty years of peace and plenty. Some people joked it was he and not the king who really ruled the land. It ended when Aery's increasing paranoia and jealousy drove the two into several bitter disagreements. According to Ser Barristan Selmy, Aerys lusted after Tywin's wife when she was alive[8] which caused further friction between the two. After Aerys refused to marry Cersei to his heir, Prince Rhaegar, and raised Jaime, Tywin's fifteen-year old son, to the Kingsguard, robbing Tywin of his prized heir, Tywin understood that the king’s motivations were to make Jaime a hostage to use against his father. Tywin resigned his position on some thin pretext and returned to Casterly Rock.

Robert's Rebellion and aftermath

Tywin Lannister - by Nacho Molina ©

When Robert's Rebellion began, Lord Tywin sat at Casterly Rock and waited, ignoring King Aerys's orders to arm, taking no side until after Robert Baratheon's decisive victory at the Battle of the Trident. After the battle, Tywin mustered his forces and rode for the capital of King's Landing. After Aerys was convinced by Grand Maester Pycelle that Tywin had come to aid him, he ordered the gates of the city opened for Tywin. The Westerlanders proceeded to sack the city. Aerys was killed by Jaime before Tywin's forces arrived at the Red Keep, but Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch, knights sworn to Tywin and under Tywin's orders, slew Rhaegar's wife Elia of Dorne and her two young children, Rhaenys and Aegon. Tywin wrapped the bodies in crimson Lannister cloaks to better conceal the blood and presented them to Robert Baratheon as a token of fealty. When asked by his son Tyrion years later why Tywin did not let Robert bloody his own hands, Tywin's replied:

We had come late to Robert's cause. It was necessary to demonstrate our loyalty. When I laid those bodies before the throne, no man could doubt that we had forsaken House Targaryen forever. And Robert's relief was palpable. As stupid as he was, even he knew that Rhaegar's children had to die if his throne was ever to be secure. Yet he saw himself as a hero, and heroes do not kill children. [9]

While earning House Lannister the hatred of both House Martell of Dorne and the population of King's Landing, this act also secured the marriage of the new king, Robert Baratheon, to Tywin's daughter Cersei, whose proposed betrothal to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had been rejected by Aerys much to Tywin's bitter disappointment. Cersei's marriage to the new, young, and popular king did much to make up for Tywin's earlier disappointment. After the rebellion, Tywin returned to Casterly Rock, where he continued to serve as Lord and Warden of the West. Due to King Robert's financial mismanagement of the realm, as well as his own new connection to the throne by marriage, Lord Tywin frequently lent money to the crown, placing the court in King's Landing in debt of over three million gold dragons) to House Lannister.

Though ruthless, Tywin Lannister was also an able and shrewd ruler who brought great prosperity during his tenures as the King's Hand. He was especially talented at the raising of funds, leading to a persistent jest that he must "shit gold."[10] His daughter Cersei once reminisced that the common folk of Lannisport cheered twice as loud for him as they did for their actual king, Mad Aerys II. Even so Tywin was more respected then loved in the Westerlands and he became despised in King's Landing after his house treacherously sacked the city.


When Tywin discovered his son Tyrion wed a common girl, Tysha, which in Tywin's eyes would make the house a laughingstock again, Tywin taught him a sharp lesson. He commanded Tyrion's brother Jaime to name her a prostitute and made Tyrion watch as Tywin gave Tysha over to his garrison of guards, having each man pay the girl a silver coin after raping her. He forced Tyrion to do the same but pay the girl a gold coin.[11] He earned the enmity of his son forever for that act, but Tywin did not care, for it was on his other children that he placed all his hopes.

Tywin later refused to allow Tyrion to travel and see the world as Tywin's brothers had in their youth, fearing he would bring further shame on House Lannister and as a "gift" for Tyrion's sixteenth nameday he put his son in charge of cleaning all the drains of Casterly Rock.[12]

When Tyrion became 16-years-old, the official age of adulthood, he believed he would be free to do as he wished. Tywin disillusioned him, replying:

No man is free. Only children and fools think elsewise.[12]

Though Tywin's children also greatly respected him, none of them were able to conform to the paths he had laid out for them, a fact that caused many difficulties.[13]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister

Believed to be responsible for hiring an assassin to murder Bran Stark while he lay in a coma, Tywin's son Tyrion is arrested at the Inn at the Crossroads by Catelyn Tully, the wife of Eddard Stark, current Hand of the King. She takes him to her sister Lysa, at the Eyrie, for trial. Though Tywin does not care about Tyrion's welfare, he sees the arrest and kidnapping as a direct slight on House Lannister's honor which he will not tolerate. In response Tywin sends Ser Gregor Clegane and his men, disguised as brigands, to sack and pillage various villages and hamlets across the Riverlands, Catelyn's homeland.[14] These raids mark one of the seminal points in what is to become the War of the Five Kings.

Tywin's aim is to draw Eddard out of King's Landing, capture him, and exchange him for the freedom of his son. Eddard, however, is injured in a skirmish on the streets of King's Landing with Tywin's son Jaime and sends Lord Beric Dondarrion in his stead. When Beric's forces reached the Mummer's Ford, soldiers of Tywin's and Gregor's attacked from all sides, routing Dondarrion's host. Dondarrion himself is mortally wounded, though he would be revived by Thoros of Myr and go on to form the Brotherhood Without Banners, which would continually harass the Lannister forces for the duration of the war.

As the war gains momentum, Tywin's forces take the majority of the Riverlands and lay siege to Riverrun before meeting their first real opposition in the Battle of the Green Fork. Just prior to the battle, Tyrion, having won his freedom from the Vale of Arryn via trial by combat and earned the loyalty of many of the Mountain clans along the way, meets with his father. Tywin sends Tyrion and his clansmen into the battle on the left flank, believing the undisciplined men likely to rout, but giving the northern commander, which Tywin believed to be the young and inexperienced Robb Stark, a chance to over-commit and be annihilated.[15] The clansmen do not rout, however, and the northern commander is not Robb but instead the more cautious and experienced Roose Bolton. The battle is a Lannister victory, but it buys enough time for a separate northern force under Robb Stark's command to cross the Trident at The Twins and lift the siege of Riverrun, capturing Tywin's other son, Jaime, in the process.

After the death of King Robert, Tywin is named Hand of the King for his grandson Joffrey Baratheon.[16] After the battle, he sends Tyrion to King's Landing to serve as Hand in his stead, and to prepare the city's defenses in anticipation of an attack from one or both of Robert's brothers, Stannis and Renly, both of whom have laid claim to the Iron Throne, while Tywin manages the war with the North and the Riverlands.[17]

A Clash of Kings

The loss of Riverrun means that Tywin is not able to pursue and destroy Roose Bolton's forces. Instead he marchs south to Harrenhal while he ponders his next move. When Robb Stark marches from Riverrun and invades the Westerlands, smashing a new Lannister host being raised and trained by Stafford Lannister at Oxcross and turning his forces loose to scour the Westerlands, Tywin leaves Harrenhal and marches his forces west in pursuit. Robb's plan is to lead Tywin's army on a long chase across the Westerlands, bleeding his forces and living off of their lands. However, Edmure Tully, who had been tasked with holding Riverrun but was unaware of Robb's plan, meets Tywin's army in the field in the Battle of the Fords.[18]

Tywin's forces are bloodied and thrown back, but the delay allows word to reach Tywin that Stannis Baratheon has murdered his brother Renly and laid claim to much of his army, and that he is marching and sailing on King's Landing with an enormous force. Tywin turns his force southeast on a forced march to King's Landing, joining with the newly-allied forces of House Tyrell. Together they arrive just in time for the waning moments of the Battle of the Blackwater, where they are able to break and drive away the majority of Stannis' army, which had been on the cusp of victory, by taking them in the flank.[19] Tywin commands the host's right flank during the battle.[20] Tywin is declared Savior of the City by King Joffrey.[21] Tywin's son Tyrion, who had done much for the city's defenses, is critically wounded in the fighting.[22]

A Storm of Swords

Tywin's timely arrival at the Battle of the Blackwater allows him to take the majority of the credit for the Lannister victory. Tywin assumes his official position as King Joffrey's Hand,[23] while giving Tyrion, after his recovery, the position of Master of Coin, which Tyrion sees as a demotion and an insult. Tywin arranges for Tyrion to be wed to Sansa Stark[5] before she can be betrothed to Willas Tyrell, giving him claim over Winterfell and directly denying Tyrion's ambition to inherit Casterly Rock.[22] He also makees plans to find a suitor to marry his widowed daughter, Queen Cersei, though they are never realized. He offers her to Willas Tyrell but Mace Tyrell, after being hectored by his mother, Olenna Redwyne, refuses the match. Tywin demands that Tyrion act as if the offer were never made.[24]

After learning that Robb Stark has unexpectedly wed Jeyne Westerling and that House Westerling has gone over to the Starks, Tywin remains in communication, via raven, with Jeyne's mother Sybell Spicer. He also communicates with Roose Bolton, who has switched sides to the Lannisters after taking Harrenhal, and Lord Walder Frey, who sees Robb's marriage to Jeyne as an insult to House Frey, as it breaks a marriage pact Robb had previously made to wed a Frey girl. The Red Wedding is the direct result of their correspondence, which sees Robb Stark betrayed and murdered along with the vast majority of his host, effectively ending the war with House Lannister the victor.

Tywin Lannister has Ice, the Valyrian steel greatsword of Eddard Stark, melted down and reforged into two longswords as gifts, one for Joffrey on his wedding day and the other to Jaime.[24] Not long after, King Joffrey is poisoned and dies at the feast following his wedding to Margaery Tyrell. Tywin's son Tyrion is falsely accused of the crime, and Tywin agrees to be one of Tyrion's three judges, alongside Oberyn Martell and Mace Tyrell, at his trial. When it becomes clear that he is going to be found guilty, Tyrion demands trial by combat, and Oberyn surprisingly volunteers to champion him. Cersei, being Tyrion's accuser, selects Ser Gregor Clegane to represent the crown. Gregor, despite being poisoned by Oberyn during the trial, wins the duel, slaying Oberyn, and Tyrion is thus found guilty.[25]

Tywin faces huge political ramifications from the trial. Before slaying Oberyn, Gregor roars his guilt in slaying Elia Martell and her son for all the realm to hear. Tywin fears Dorne might join Stannis Baratheon, which could prolong the war for years. He plans on having Gregor executed to appease House Martell, but needs it to be seen to be the King's Justice who carries out the deed, not poison. Tywin commands Pycelle to heal Gregor, but Pycelle's efforts prove fruitless.[26]

Awaiting his sentencing, Tyrion is freed from the Red Keep's dungeon by his brother Jaime and a reluctant Varys. During his escape, Jaime reveals the truth about Tyrion's first wife Tysha, saying she was not a whore but a girl just met on the road and Tywin had made Jaime speak the lie to Tyrion. Tyrion is enraged by this and has Varys show him to a ladder that leads directly into the Tower of the Hand, Tywin's residence, Tyrion finds his ex-lover Shae in Tywin's bed, wearing nothing but his father's golden chain of office. Tyrion strangles her to death with it. He then takes a crossbow from the wall and finds Tywin in the privy and confronts him about Tysha. Tywin remains belligerent, repeatedly calling her a whore, which Tyrion sees as the final insult and shtots him in his bowels with the crossbow, killing him. Tywin dies while seated on the privy and his bowels loosen in the moment of death, causing Tyrion to think as he left his father's body:

But the stink that filled the privy gave ample evidence that the oft-repeated jape about his father was just another lie. Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold. [27]

A Feast for Crows

After Tywin's body is discovered, it is prepared for a state burial. Cersei has the Kettleblacks remove the body of Shae and swears she will have the tongue removed of any man who mentions Shae was ever there.[6] The remains of Lord Tywin are shown for seven days in the Great Sept of Baelor before making its way west with an entourage of knights and lords from the Westerlands. The smell of the body is so bad many of the mourners grow sick or faint from being too near. A drying of the mouth also causes Tywin's lips to curl up and make him appear to smile.[28] This disturbs Jaime and Cersei, because Tywin Lannister seldom smiled.

A Dance with Dragons

Ser Kevan Lannister thinks of Tywin and how Tywin would never have dreamed his own golden daughter would experience a similar fate (a walk of shame) as Tywin made their fathers mistress suffer. [29]


Tywin Lannister spent his whole life maintaining Lannister prestige, under his rule House Lannister grew both strong, powerful and feared.

However upon his death his accomplishments which almost led House Lannister to complete victory in the War of the Five Kings are unravelling thanks to the follies of his children, especially Cersei who later in an Ironic twist of fate was forced by the Faith of the Seven to do a penance walk naked through the streets of King's Landing just as Tywin had once forced his own father's mistress to do through the streets of Lannisport.

In the end Tywin Lannister died a humiliating death and was proven to be a hypocrite, Throughout his life he repeatedly put Tyrion down for his whoring yet was caught with a whore (no less his son Tyrion's former whore Shae) in his own bed before his death.

He was blind when it came to his children, refusing to see the true relationship between Cersei and Jaime along with not acknowledging Tyrion's true worth. Even when Tywin's own sister Genna told him Tyrion's worth, Tywins response was to ignore her for half a year. It is due to this ignorance that his Houses standing which he dedicated his whole life to maintaining is beginning to crumble.

Quotes by Tywin

When your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you.[9]

Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens.[22]

- on the Red Wedding

There is a tool for every task, and a task for every tool.[24]

The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever then the men who laugh at them.[5]

Tywin to Tyrion when Tyrion asks if the Westerlings are fools when he learns of the marriage of Robb Stark to Jeyne Westerling.

Quotes about Tywin

Ned would sooner entrust a child to a pit viper than to Lord Tywin.[30]

-Eddard Stark

Every once in a very long while, Lord Tywin Lannister would actually threaten to smile, he never did, but the threat alone was terrible to behold. [5]

-Tyrion Lannister

Men say Tywin never smiled, but he smiled when he wed your mother, and when Aerys made him Hand. When Tarbeck Hall came crashing down on Lady Ellyn, that scheming bitch, Tyg claimed he smiled then, and he smiled at your birth, Jaime, I saw with my own eyes.[3]

-Genna Lannister to her nephew Jaime

Tywin seems a hard man to you, but he's no harder than he's had to be. Our own father was gentle and amiable, but so weak his bannermen mocked him in their cups. Some saw fit to defy him openly. Other lords borrowed his gold and never troubled to repay it. At court they japed of toothless lions. Even his own mistress stole from him. A woman scarcely one step above a whore, and she helped herself to my mother's jewels! It fell to Tywin to restore House Lannister to its proper place. Just as it fell to him to rule this realm, when he was no more than twenty. He bore that heavy burden for twenty years and all it earned him was a mad king's envy. Instead of the honor he deserved, he was made to suffer slights beyond count, yet he gave the Seven Kingdoms peace, plenty and justice. He is a just man.[4]

-Kevan Lannister

I have served six kings, but here before us lies the greatest man I ever knew. Lord Tywin wore no crown, yet he was all a king should be.[28]

- Pycelle at Lord Tywin's funeral.

I was seven when Walder Frey persuaded my lord father to give my hand to Emm. His second son, not even his heir. Father was himself a thirdborn son, and younger children crave the approval of their elders. Frey sensed that weakness in him, and Father agreed for no better reason than to please him. My betrothal was announced at a feast with half the west in attendance. Ellyn Tarbeck laughed and the Red Lion went angry from the hall. The rest sat on their tongues. Only Tywin dared speak against the match. A boy of ten. Father turned as white as mare's milk, and Walder Frey was quivering...How could I not love him after that? That is not to say I approved of all he did, or much enjoyed the company of the man he became...but every little girl needs a big brother to protect her. Tywin was big even when he was little.[3]

- Genna Lannister reminiscing about her older brother.

Are you down in some hell, Father? A nice cold hell where you can look up and see me help restore Mad Aerys's daughter to the Iron Throne?[31]

- Tyrion Lannister


Tywin married his cousin Joanna Lannister. They had three children; Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion. Joanna died when giving birth to Tyrion. It is an unexplained mystery why Tywin named his first son Jaime, after no one known, and gave the family-traditional-style name Tyrion to his deformed second son.


References and Notes

  1. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 56, Tyrion VII.
  2. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 3, Cersei I.
  7. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
  8. Aerys's own unhappy marriage was arranged
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  10. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya VII.
  11. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 42, Tyrion VI.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion III.
  13. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  14. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 62, Tyrion VIII.
  16. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  17. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX.
  18. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  19. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn II.
  20. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 62, Sansa VII.
  21. Which is ironic as Tywin was responsible for the previous Sack of the city during the War of the Usurper
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 4, Tyrion I.
  23. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya X.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
  25. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
  26. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
  27. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 77, Tyrion XI.
  28. 28.0 28.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
  29. A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
  30. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
  31. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.

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