Tywin Lannister

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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. Tywin is one of the most powerful lords in Westeros. He 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 Lannister dedicated his whole life and all his efforts into maintaining the Lannisters prestige, ensuring House Lannister was 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]


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

Tywin family's reputation was low because his weak father[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 got the message and caused no further trouble.

When Tywins father Tytos finally keeled over of a burst heart while climbing a flight of steps to visit his mistress[6], Tywin Lannister became the Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West. Upon his fathers death Tywin found his fathers mistress trying on one of his late mothers gowns, his father's mistress was a common born woman the daughter of a chandler and she had 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 even said that Tywin smiled on the day he wed Joanna.[7] It was said that though Tywin ruled the Seven Kingdoms (as Hand) he was ruled at home by his lady wife. Joanna have given 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, a hideous monster. Tywin was devastated by her untimely death and took no further wife. Gerion Lannister once told his nephew Tyrion that the best part of Tywin died when Joanna did.[8]

Tywin's ability came to 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. That people "joked" it was he and not the king who really ruled the land. It all 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 (Aerys's own unhappy marriage was arranged) which caused further friction between the two. After Aerys refused to marry Cersei to his heir, Prince Rhaegar, and raised Jaime Tywins 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, so 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 orders to arm, taking no side until after Robert'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. When Aerys opened the gates, he 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 then wrapped the bodies in crimson Lannister cloaks (to better conceal the blood) and presented them to Robert as a token of fealty. When asked by his son Tyrion years later why Tywin didn't let Robert Baratheon bloody his own hands, Tywin's reply was...

...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 he even knew 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]

This act while earning House Lannister the hatred of both House Martell of Dorne and the population of King's Landing also secured the new King's marriage to his daughter Cersei, whose proposed betrothal to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had been rejected by King 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 great debt to House Lannister (over three million gold dragons).

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 eyes would make the house a laughingstock again, Tywin taught him a "sharp lesson", he commanded his 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 then forced Tyrion to do the same but then 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.

Later Tywin refused to allow Tyrion to travel and see the world (as Tywin's brothers both 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. But Tywin disillusioned him, replying:

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

Though Tywin children also greatly respected him, none of them were ever 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 was encountered and arrested at the Inn of the Crossroads by Catelyn Tully, the wife of Eddard Stark. She took him to her sister Lysa, at The Eyrie, for trial. Though Tywin didn't care about his son Tyrion's welfare he saw the arrest and kidnapping as a direct slight on the family's honor and Tywin Lannister does not tolerate any slights to House Lannister, and in response sent Ser Gregor Clegane and his men, disguised as brigands, to sack and pillage various villages and hamlets across the Riverlands, Catelyn's home.[14] These raids marked one of the seminal points in what was to become the War of the Five Kings.

Tywin's aim was to draw Eddard out of King's Landing, capture him, and exchange him for the freedom of his son. Eddard, however, had been injured in a skirmish on the streets of King's Landing with Tywin's son Jaime and sent 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 was 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 gained momentum, Tywin's forces took the majority of the Riverlands and laid 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 via trial by combat and earned the loyalty of many of the Mountain clans along the way, met up with his father. Tywin sent 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 did not rout, however, and the Northern commander was not Stark but instead the more cautious and experienced Roose Bolton. The battle was a Lannister victory, but it bought 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 had been named Hand of the King for his grandson Joffrey Baratheon.[16] After the battle, he sent 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 had laid claim to the Iron Throne, while Tywin managed the war with the North and the Riverlands.[17]

A Clash of Kings

The loss of Riverrun meant that Tywin was not able to pursue and destroy Roose Bolton's forces. Instead he marched south to Harrenhal while he pondered his next move. When Robb Stark marched from Riverrun and invaded 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 left Harrenhal and marched his forces West in pursuit. Robb's plan was 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 (and who was unaware of Robb's plan), met Tywin's army in the field in the Battle of the Fords.[18]

Tywin's forces were bloodied and thrown back, but the delay allowed word to reach Tywin that Stannis Baratheon had murdered his brother Renly and laid claim to much of his army, and that he was marching and sailing on King's Landing with an enormous force. Tywin turned his force southeast on a forced march to King's Landing, joining with the newly-allied forces of House Tyrell. Together they arrived just in time for the waning moments of the Battle of the Blackwater, where they were 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 commanded the host's right flank during the battle.[20] Tywin was declared Savior of the City by King Joffrey (which is ironic as Tywin was responsible for the previous Sack of the city during the War of the Usurper)

Tywin's son Tyrion, who had done much for the city's defenses, was critically wounded in the fighting.[21]

A Storm of Swords

Tywin's timely arrival at the Battle of the Blackwater allowed him to take the majority of the credit for the Lannister victory. Tywin assumed his official position as King Joffrey's Hand,[22] while giving Tyrion, after his recovery, the position of Master of Coin, which Tyrion saw as a demotion and an insult. He arranged for Tyrion to be wed to Sansa Stark[5] before she could be betrothed to Willas Tyrell, giving him claim over Winterfell and directly denying Tyrion's ambition to inherit Casterly Rock.[21] He also made plans to find a suitor to marry his widowed daughter Queen Cersei, though they were never realized. He offered her to Willas Tyrell but Mace Tyrell (after being hectored by his mother) refused the match; he demands that Tyrion act as if the offer were never made.[23]

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

Tywin Lannister also had Ice, the Valyrian Steel greatsword of Eddard Stark melted down and reforged into two longswords, one was a gift for Joffrey on his wedding day the other as a gift to Jaime.[23] Not long after, King Joffrey was poisoned and died at the feast that followed his wedding to Margaery Tyrell. Tywin's son Tyrion was (falsely) accused of the crime, and Tywin agreed to be one of Tyrion's three judges, alongside Oberyn Martell and Mace Tyrell, at his trial. When it became clear that he was going to be found guilty, Tyrion demanded trial by combat, and Oberyn surprisingly volunteered to champion him. Cersei, being Tyrion's accuser, had selected Ser Gregor Clegane to represent the crown. Gregor won the duel, slaying Oberyn, and Tyrion was thus found guilty.[24]

Awaiting his sentencing, however, Tyrion was freed from the Black Cells by his brother Jaime (and a reluctant Varys). During his escape, Jaime revealed the truth about Tysha (Tyrion's first wife) to Tyrion saying she was not a whore but a girl just chance met on the road and father had made Jaime speak the lie to Tyrion. Tyrion was enraged by this and had Varys show him to a ladder that led directly into the Tower of the Hand, and climbed it straight into Tywin's residence, He found his ex-whore Shae in Tywin's bed, wearing nothing but his father's golden chain of office. Tyrion strangled her to death with it. He then took a crossbow from the wall and found Tywin in the privy and confronted him about Tysha. Tywin remained belligerent, repeatedly calling her a "whore", which Tyrion saw as the final insult and shot him in his bowels with the crossbow, killing him. Tywin died while seated on the privy and his bowels loosened in the moment of death causing Tyrion to think as he left his fathers body...

"...the oft repeated jape about his father was just another lie, Lord Tywin Lannister in the end did not shit gold". [25]

A Feast for Crows

After his body was discovered, it was prepared for a state burial. Cersei had the Kettleblacks remove the body of Shae and swore she would have the tongue removed of any man who mentioned she was ever there.[6] The remains of Lord Tywin were 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 was so bad many of the mourners grew sick or faint from being too near. A drying of the mouth also caused Lord Tywin lips to curl up and make him appear to smile.[26] This disturbed both Jaime and Cersei because as mentioned above Tywin Lannister seldom smiled.


Although House Lannister became respected and powerful again due his efforts after his father's reign, it increasingly looks like the House is going to collapse into ruin and become an embarrassment again due to the follies of his children, especially Cersei, who in an ironic twist of fate was forced in A Dance with Dragons by the Faith of the Seven to do a penance walk naked through the streets of King's Landing just as Tywin once forced his father's mistress to do the same through the streets of Lannisport.

In the end Tywin Lannister died a humiliating death and was also proven to be a hypocrite, through out his life Tywin repeatedly put Tyrion down for his whoring. Yet he was caught with a whore (no less his sons 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 and Tyrion's true potential. Even when his own sister Genna Lannister saw Tyrion's worth and told Tywin so, Tywin's response was to ignore her for half a year. It is due to this ignorance that his accomplishments in the War of the Five Kings, which almost resulted in complete victory for his House, have been undone largely by Cersei.


"...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. Else wise no man will ever bend the knee to you".[9]

"some wars are won with swords others with quills and ravens".[21]

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

Quotes about Tywin

"Ned would sooner entrust a child to a pit viper than to Lord Tywin". [27]

-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". [28]

-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"[26]

- Pycelle at Lord Tywins funeral.


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

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