Gold and Steel
The history of Westeros is written in blood and steel, a tale combining love, duty, sacrifice, and treachery in equal measure. The saga of the children of the forest, the First Men, the Andals, the Seven Kingdoms, and all that goes with them lies at the heart of SIFRP. You will be witness to—or better still, the makers of—great events to shape the future of the Seven Kingdoms, and may, if they are ruthless, courageous, and cunning enough, become part of future legends.
Spanning over a dozen millennia, the history of Westeros is at times confused, uncertain, or entirely unknown, but the following entries detail knowledge commonly held by maesters, septons, and other chroniclers of history. All dates are in relation to the Landing of Aegon the Conqueror.
The Dawn Age
Year: (Before -12,000)
As with many things regarding the history of Westeros, controversy exists regarding the true age of the land. Maesters claim the world is anywhere from forty thousand to five hundred thousand years old. A broad range to be sure, but the trouble stems from incomplete records from this time, conflicting stories involving various characters of myth, and the often magical nature of those stories stemming from that era. In fact, many tales suggest kings and heroes lived for centuries, and other tales attribute astonishing deeds to figures before they were born. Regardless of the inconsistencies as to exactly when this era occurred on Westeros, it was a period of great magic, bold heroes, and fantastic exploits. For all the myth and splendor of this era, however, it was also one marked by bloodshed and war.
The Children of the Forest
Before the coming of men, Westeros was home to the children of the forest, a curious and mysterious people, remembered for their magical prowess and strange customs. Legend holds that the children of the forest were a diminutive people, a society that dwelt in caves, crannogs, and hidden tree villages. They were dark and beautiful, no taller than children, even in adulthood. They worshiped the gods of the natural world, the spirits of the streams, and trees, and rocks, and wind. Unlike the men who would follow, the children did not use metal or weave cloth; instead, they crafted their implements from stone and clothing from leaves and bark. They were a people with a deep and powerful connection to the land.
The oldest tales gift the children with many supernatural powers, including the ability to fly like birds and swim like fish. They could cast their minds into beasts, wearing animals like second skins, and visions and portents of things to come haunted their dreams. Such was their influence on the land that many of their works remain in the present day, though more so in the North than in the plundered south. White weirwoods bear faces carved in their bark, faces, it is said, that allow the old gods to peer into the world of men and watch over their followers. More than just their works, however, the methods and beliefs of the children still inform many of the customs upheld in the North and those scattered throughout the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. In particular, the crannogmen of the Neck are close in stature and in beliefs to the children of old, while the Sacred Order of the Green Men still upholds the ancient pacts forged when the First Men and children of the forest set aside their grudges to embrace a lasting peace. While the children of the forest are believed to be no more, some swear these lost folk live on, far from the lands of men, lurking in the quiet places, the unspoiled wilderness beyond the Wall or in the depths of the trackless wolfswood in the North.
The First Men
Year: (ca -12,000)
One can only speculate how long the children of the forest dwelt in the lands that would one day become the Seven Kingdoms before they encountered the First Men, but the First Men would change the course of history and lay the foundation for the struggles to come. It’s possible the children of the forest anticipated the arrival of these barbarian hordes, what with their prophetic dreams. But if they did, it seems it did them little good in stemming the flood, for when the First Men came, they brought with them violence, war, and death.
The First Men entered the lands of Westeros some twelve thousand years ago by the Arm of Dorne, a land bridge that would be shattered in the coming struggle. Mounted on horseback and bearing weapons of bronze and shields of boiled leather, they swept through the lands, felling trees and clearing the land for their farms and villages, as well as raising temples to their queer gods and violent ways. At first, the children of the forest hid themselves in the deep woods, afraid of the horses, nearly as much as the First Men were afraid of the faces in the trees. The First Men were a warrior culture, a people unaccustomed to the ancient power of this land, and so, as they raised their holdfasts and cleared the forests for farmlands, they cut down the faces in the forest and despoiled the perfect wilderness. It was enough to rouse the children from their fear and impel them to war.
The Wars of the Dawn Age
Driven by their outrage at the First Men’s destruction of their homeland, the children of the forest abandoned the peace and took up arms, harrying their enemies with flying snares and arrows fired from weirwood bows. The greenseers’ mystics and sorcerers used dark magic to raise the seas and sweep away the land, shattering the Arm of Dorne and, thus, creating the Stepstones of the modern era. Although the destruction was widespread, it was too late, for the First Men had come to stay.
It’s believed the wars raged for nearly two thousand years, and though the children fought fiercely, they could not stand against the larger, stronger men, who wielded bronze against the obsidian blades and arrowheads used by the children. When the earth was sodden with the blood of the slain and the dead surely outnumbered the living, the chieftains and heroes of the First Men joined the greenseers and wood dancers of the children on a wooded island in the center of the Gods Eye, a great lake in the center of Westeros. There, it was decided the First Men would receive the coastal lands, the meadows, the bogs, and the mountains, while the children would be free to live in their forests unmolested for all time. The First Men pledged to never again cut down the weirwoods and to leave the children of the forest in peace. To ensure the gods would look upon the truce, the children carved faces in every weirwood tree. The Sacred Order of Green Men was formed to keep watch over the Isle of Faces and ensure the Pact remained for all time.
The Age of Heroes
For nearly four thousand years, the Pact endured, and in that time, the children of the forest and the First Men grew closer. In time, the First Men set aside many of their cultural beliefs to embrace the ways and customs of the children of the forest. With the exception of the Drowned God of the Iron Isles, the gods of the children came to be those of the First Men, and a deep reverence for nature blossomed in the peace that followed. The children continued to live as they always had lived while in the realms of the First Men, great cities sprang up, and mighty kingdoms rose and fell.
Heroes of the Age
The Age of Heroes takes its name from the great men and women who lived in the years of peace that followed the forging of the Pact. While many stories, songs, and legends circulate about this era, maesters point to this era as the beginning of the Seven Kingdoms. Garth Greenhand founded House Gardener of the Reach, and from him sprung numerous other lines and families. Durran, first of the Storm Kings, raised Storm’s End to check the wrath of the gods for wedding their daughter, and legends hold that the Grey King of the Iron Islands wed a mermaid and became king of the western isles and all the sea beyond. While much was achieved during this ancient era, it was at a cost.
The Long Night
Year: (ca -8,000)
In the midst of the Age of Heroes fell the longest and blackest of winters. The sun set and did not rise again for a generation, and the ice spread down from the north, carrying with it monstrous beings from the far-flung north to prey on the First Men and the children of the forest alike. Amongst these horrors were mammoths, giants, direwolves, and more, but nothing compared to the demonic Others, a mysterious people who sought to purge Westeros of the human infestation, and so the Others were merciless in their slaughter.
The War for the Dawn
The Long Night wore on as the Others marched and killed and raised up the dead to be their servants in unlife, but in the darkest hour, a great hero arose. Uniting the First Men and the children of the forest, the people of Westeros threw back the Others, pushing them back into the frozen reaches of the Far North.
With the Others defeated, legend tells that Bran the Builder, with the aid of the giants, First Men, and, perhaps, the children of the forest, raised up the Wall, a looming barrier of ice that travels from one side of Westeros to the other and shelters the lands in the south from the old evil of the far North. The Wall, although ensorcelled with ancient magic and taller than any structure ever built, needed men to guard it, to walk its length, and to shield the lands to the south. Thus, the Order of the Night’s Watch was formed. These men foreswore their kin, their hopes of children, and their allegiances to the kings that ruled the lands and vowed to protect the Wall and all people by safeguarding it and remaining vigilant against the horrors that would tumble out of the night. In these early days, the Night’s Watch was a valiant institution, a body of noble warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice to be protectors of all.
The Night’s King
Not long after the Wall was complete, the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch embraced the dark and became a dreadful terror in the North. According to legend, he took for his bride a strange woman, pale and believed to be undead. After the unholy union, he declared himself king and she his queen, and he ruled the Night Fort as his own castle. During the dark years of his reign, horrific atrocities were committed, of which tales are still told in the North. It wasn’t until Joramun—who blew the Horn of Winter and roused the giants in the earth—and the King of the North joined forces that the Night’s King and his dreadful queen were cast down and destroyed.
The Andal Invasion
Year: (ca -6,000)
After the War for the Dawn, the First Men and the children of the forest lived in relative peace, but in these years, the children of the forest began their slow withdrawal from the lands of men, retreating deeper into their forests or beyond the Wall. The peace would not last: nearly two thousand years after the victory over the Others, a new invader came to Westeros’ shores. Landing on what would one day become the Vale of Arryn, the Andals swept across the Seven Kingdoms, much as the First Men did thousands of years before. Armed with battle-trained steeds, wielding weapons of steel, and bolstered by their religious fervor, the Andal invaders proved too much for the First Men to stand against, and thus, they—like the children of the forest before them—fell to the invaders.
These new men came from the eastern continent, a place called the Hills of Andalos. There, they received a visitation from seven holy beings who were believed to be aspects of a single, supreme deity. The worship of the seven took shape and eventually became the Faith of the Seven. Whether by divine missive, fleeing some other threat, or perhaps out of a hunger for conquest, the Andals came and conquered.
Bearing the seven-pointed star of their new gods, they drove out the First Men, destroyed the weirwoods, and slaughtered the children of the forest wherever they were found. One by one, the seven kingdoms fell until only the Kingdom of the North remained, due to the strength of Moat Cailin and the doughtiness of its warriors. Even though the North remained secure, the victories in the south spelled the end of the Pact. Those children of the forest who remained there were viciously stamped out, driven out, or quit Westeros altogether.
Forging the Seven Kingdoms Anew
With the victories of the invaders, the Andals raised up six powerful kingdoms of their own, and with the old kingdom of the First Men, they became, in truth, the Seven Kingdoms. The Kingdom of the North clung to the beliefs in the old gods, while the Kingdom of the Iron Islands, although defeated, still followed the Old Way and worshipped the Drowned God. The Kingdom of Vale and Sky spawned the oldest and purest line of Andals— House Arryn, and the Kingdom of the Rock, the Kingdom of the Storm Kings, and the Kingdom of the Reach supplanted the First Men kings. Of the seven kingdoms, the Kingdom of the riverlands, formerly ruled by the Kings of the Rivers and Hills, became a bloody battleground, as the ironmen, First Men, and Andals fought bitterly toprincipalities arose in Dorne and remained staunchly independent from the squabbles of the Seven Kingdoms, consumed by their own petty wars for dominance.
Beyond the Seven Kingdoms
While Westeros groaned under the weight of its own conflicts, a new force rose in the east, the Freehold of Valyria. Once a race of humble shepherds, the Valyrians rose to greatness by taming the dragons of the volcanic region known as the Fourteen Fires, and in the end, they established a mighty empire. There, magic flowered, topless towers rose toward the heavens where dragons soared, stone sphinxes gazed down through eyes of garnet, and smiths forged swords of legendary strength and sharpness. Although it was located far from Westeros, the history and ultimate fate of Valyria was tied inexorably to that of the Seven Kingdoms, and echoes of Valyria’s fall sound to this day.
Conquest of Old Ghis
Year: (ca. -5,000)
Old Ghis was the greatest empire of the eastern continent, and its rulers were greedy conquerors, always looking to swallow up more lands to add to their own. In time, Ghis turned hungry eyes to the Freehold of Valyria. Five times, Ghiscari troops marched on the Freehold, and five times they were defeated. In the end, the Ghiscari’s greed was their undoing, for the Freehold struck back, utterly destroying Old Ghis, slaying its people, grinding its cities to dust, pulling down its walls, and sowing the land with salt. Of Old Ghis, only its old colonies survive as the cities of Slaver’s Bay, inhabited by a mongrel people descended from the folk of Old Ghis and its conquerors.
With the destruction of Old Ghis, Valyria found other foes, including war against the Rhoynar, in which they were victorious. Nymeria, the Rhoynar warrior-queen, led her people in ten thousand ships to find refuge in Dorne. There, she formed an alliance with Lord Mors Martell, wedding him and finally bringing unity to the unruly land. Thus, House Martell was established, and has ruled Dorne from Sunspear ever since.
War against the Rhoyne
Year: (ca -700)
In Westeros, the Andals built their cities and founded new kingdoms on the ruins of the old. As Valyria and Old Ghis engaged in their death struggle across the water, the Andals consolidated their power, erecting temples to the Seven and transforming the southern kingdoms into their own vision of civilization. In the North, the old traditions still held
sway, but an uneasy peace remained between the First Men’s Kings of Winter and the Andals. But the peace would be shattered yet again, this time by a far greater threat that would land on the shores of Westeros in the years to come.
The Doom of Valyria
Year: (ca. -100)
To the east, across the narrow sea, the Freehold of Valyria ruled supreme. Its cities were filled with wonders, its sorcerers cast mighty spells, and its academies were filled with the wisdom of a thousand lands. Valyrian ships plied the high seas while its dragons ruled the skies and kept the realm safe from invasion. But even as Valyria rose to its greatest glories,
its doom drew near.
No one knows what doom befell Valyria, but the realm’s devastation was complete. Many stories claim the region was blasted by volcanic eruption—perhaps involving the Fourteen Fires, the mountains where the dragons were first discovered. The Valyrian peninsula was shattered, and the Freehold devastated, the ruin a smoking demon-haunted place. With its fall, the empire crumbled, and the Freehold’s various colonies and vassal cities broke away, surviving to this day as the cities of Slaver’s Bay and the Free Cities of the narrow sea, among others. On the vast grasslands of the eastern continent, nomadic tribes rose to prominence; chief among them is the wild Dothraki. Everywhere, Valyrian power was utterly destroyed. Everywhere, that is, save for Westeros, where a last remnant of the Freehold lived on.
Age of the Dragons
A century or so before the Doom befell them, the Valyrians took control of a small island located at the mouth of Blackwater Bay in Westeros. The Targaryens, a noble Valyrian family, ruled this isle, the westernmost outpost of the Freehold, and called it Dragonstone. There, the Targaryens dwelled until word reached them that the Freehold had fallen, leaving them as the last Valyrian rulers in the world.
As the Andals struggled for dominance in the Seven Kingdoms, the Targaryens remained in their holdfast at Dragonstone with more than enough strength to keep themselves secure. Yet the cunning and ambitious Aegon Targaryen came to want more than mere security. With limited forces and the old lands in turmoil, Aegon and his sisters Visenya and Rhaenys, both of whom he had taken to wife in the Valyrian tradition, were forced to decide between returning to their homeland or striking west to topple the Seven Kingdoms. At length, Aegon chose the latter, as his forces were small in number, and Westeros was close at hand. In this, Aegon had significant advantages, for in addition to Valyrian steel and sorcery, he had something else that no other ruler of Westeros had—the last three living dragons.
Wars of Conquest (Aegon’s Conquest)
Year: (1 AL)
A century after the Doom of Valyria, and three hundred years before the present day, the Targaryen host landed upon Westeros, with Aegon the Conqueror, his sisters Visenya and Rhaenys, and their dragons at its head. The dragons were named for the old gods of Valyria—Balerion the Black Dread, whose teeth were long as swords, and his sisters Meraxes and Vhaghar. Though the smallest of the three, Vhaghar was huge enough to swallow a man on horseback.
First House Hoare, rulers of the Iron Islands and the riverlands, fell when its ruler King Harren the Black was roasted alive by dragonfire in his fastness at Harrenhal. Then the Storm King Argilac the Arrogant perished at the hands of Aegon’s bastard half-brother Orys Baratheon. The stage was set for the final great battle of the Wars of Conquest.
Army of the Two Kings
Despite its success, constant battle weakened and overstretched the Targaryen host. Only ten thousand men marched with Aegon and his sisters, most of them conscripts or unenthusiastic levies drawn from conquered lands. Kings Loren Lannister of the Rock and Mern of the Reach decided the time was right to strike, and their combined forces over fifty thousand foot soldiers and five thousand armored knights descended upon Aegon as he marched south. At first, it seemed the Targaryen conquest was over, for the two kings’ initial charge shattered Aegon’s host and sent it fleeing.
It was then that the three dragons appeared on the field, together for the first and only time. Four thousand of their foes burned on what was to be called the Field of Fire, including King Mern, and the rest were put to flight. Seeing his cause was lost, King Loren bent the knee to Aegon and was allowed to rule as the Targaryen’s vassal. On that day, the last real hope of defeating the Dragonlords died. Soon after, Aegon marched into Oldtown, where on the advice of his High Septon, Lord Hightower threw open the gates and welcomed the Targaryen host. This year was the first of the Targaryen dynasty, and all dates from that point on would be referred to as “AL” or “after Aegon’s Landing.”
The Targaryens did not triumph everywhere, however. To the south, the wily Dornishmen refused battle, raiding and harassing the Dragonlord’s host as it went. Finally, Aegon acknowledged that taking and holding Dorne would be far too costly, and he allowed the realm to keep its freedom.
Formation of the Great Houses
It was during and immediately after the Wars of Conquest that the noble houses of today’s Westeros were founded or granted their current status by Aegon. Vickon Greyjoy and Edwyn Tully of Riverrun both aided Aegon against King Harren—the Iron Islands to Greyjoy and the riverlands to Tully. Orys Baratheon, Aegon’s half-brother, was awarded the territory of Argilac the Arrogant, and Loren Lannister was allowed to keep his family holdings, including the fortress at Casterly Rock, when he bent the knee to the Dragonlords after the Host of the Two Kings was defeated. Highgarden, home of the slain King Mern, was surrendered by Mern’s steward, Harlan Tyrell, who was in turn granted Highgarden and the Reach as his own.
Of the southern kingdoms, only Dorne and the North remained free. Even as Aegon consolidated his gains, it seemed another war was coming as Torrhen Stark, the King of Winter, marched south to battle at the Red Fork, east of Riverrun. In the end, however, awed by the might of the Targaryen dragons and by the size of Aegon’s host, which was now swollen with troops from the conquered lands, Stark chose to submit as well, accepting Aegon’s authority and receiving mastery of the North in return. And so nearly all of Westeros was united, though the Dornishmen still ruled in the south. The swords of Aegon’s foes were melted down and re-forged into the shape of a mighty seat that is today known as the Iron Throne.
The Faith Militant
Year (37 – 48 AL)
Though Aegon, his sisters, and their dragons had triumphed almost everywhere, the Targaryen crown did not rest easy. Upon Aegon’s death in 37 AL, the armed order of the old gods known as the Faith Militant rose up against Aegon’s successor, Aenys I. Overwhelmed and outmatched, Aenys gave the task of stamping out the rebellion to his brother and heir Maegor. It took the remainder of Maegor’s rule to stamp out the rebellion, and he did so with such ruthlessness that he was known ever after as Maegor the Cruel. When Maegor passed, and Jaehaerys I took the throne in 48 AL, the Faith Militant accepted pardon and amnesty in exchange for disbanding and swearing allegiance to the Dragonlords. For his mercy and diplomacy, Jaehaerys was called “The Conciliator,” and the realm remained at peace for another seventy years.
Dance of the Dragons
Year: (129 – 131 AL)
The first of the three great civil wars to rend the Targaryen’s empire began when wise King Viserys I died in 129 AL, passing the throne to his daughter Rhaenyra. The commander of Viserys’s Kingsguard, Ser Criston Cole, disdained the notion of a female ascending to the throne and proclaimed Aegon, Viserys’s son by his second wife, as king. War ravaged the land as nobles threw in their lot with one side or the other. Styled Aegon II, the old king’s son seemed to triumph when his dragon slew Rhaenyra, but her followers carried on under the banner of her son, Aegon III. Most of the surviving Targaryen dragons perished in the bloody conflict, which ended in 131 AL with the death of Aegon II and the ascension of Aegon III.
The trauma of seeing his mother devoured by his uncle’s dragon proved too much for the new king, and thus, he grew to manhood with a terrible fear of the creatures. Though most of the Targaryen dragons had perished in the war, a handful had survived. The last two dragons hatched on Dragonstone some time after the war, but they were weak and misshapen creatures. As they died during his reign, he earned the title of “Dragonsbane.” The last dragon left behind a clutch of eggs, but they would not hatch, and thus it spelled the end of dragons in the world—or so the maesters believe—forever.
Conquest of Dorne & the Dornish Rebellion
Year: (157 – 184 AL)
Dorne had long been a source of frustration to the Targaryens. Upon taking the throne in 157 AL, the young King Daeron I marched south and brought the Dornishmen to battle, quickly defeating them. The eldest son of Aegon III, Daeron was a bright and talented young man, who wrote eloquently of his achievements in The Conquest of Dorne, and led his troops with great bravery, despite being only fourteen years old when he took the throne.
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. As before, the Dornishmen proved cunning and all but impossible to rule. The Lord of Highgarden was entrusted with governing the fractious people, and he spent much of his time chasing down elusive rebels, moving from estate to estate and displacing local lords from their homes. One night, he pulled on a sash to summon a servant but instead opened up the canopy over his bed, sending a rain of a hundred red scorpions down on his head. At the news of Highgarden’s death, the Dornishmen rose in rebellion, and in a fortnight, they had driven out the Targaryens and regained their freedom, which they would retain until Dorne joined the Seven Kingdoms by marriage thirty-six years later.
Despite his good qualities, Daeron I’s rule did not last long; he died at age eighteen and was succeeded by his brother Baelor, who is known to history as Baelor the Blessed. Legend holds Baelor walked unharmed into a Dornish viper pit in order to rescue Aemon the Dragonknight and made peace with the Dornishmen. Despite his title (he was also called “The Beloved”), Baelor was a severe and inflexible man who refused to touch his sister-wife Daena and even went so far as to imprison her and her two sisters in the Red Keep at King’s Landing, so they would not tempt him into sin. Although sealed away in the Maidenvault, Daena managed to bed her cousin Aegon, thus giving birth to a bastard boy who would be named Daemon Blackfyre.
For all his eccentricities, Baelor left his mark on the realm, and one of his greatest achievements was the construction of the Great Sept in King’s Landing, which would later be named the Great Sept of Baelor. He finally died in 171 AL and was succeeded by his uncle, Viserys II, who ruled for but a single year before making way for a king who more than made up for Baelor’s austerity. King Aegon IV, eldest son of Viserys II, was called “the Unworthy” due to his life of dissipation and self-indulgence. On his deathbed in 184 AL, he decreed all of his dozens of bastards by his many mistresses to be legitimate, setting the stage for the untold bloodshed to come. Known as the Great Bastards—and including the likes of Daemon Blackfyre, Aegor “Bittersteel” Rivers, and others—they and their descendants would trouble the Seven Kingdoms for five generations until the last of them perished in the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
Year: (184 AL)
Over the ages, the wildlings of the Far North tried many times to overcome the might of the Night’s Watch and the Wall. But with long summers and prosperity in the south, the threats in the North seemed less urgent, and the Watch began its slow decline. In 184 AL, the wildling King-beyond-the-Wall Raymun Redbeard took advantage of the Watch’s laxness and had his men surreptitiously scale the Wall, bypassing the black brothers and leading his horde south. Evaded and humiliated, the Night’s Watch played almost no role in the war that was to follow, in which Lord Willam Stark and Harmond Umber of Last Hearth met and crushed Raymun’s wildlings north of Long Lake. The valiant Lord Willam perished in the fight and was succeeded by his son. Grieving and disgusted with the Watch and its Lord Commander(known to history as “Sleepy Jack”) he commanded the black brothers to bury the slain wildlings while he mourned.
Year: (195 – 196 AL)
In 184 AL, Aegon’s eldest took the throne as King Daeron II. Known to history as “the Good,” Aegon’s rule began well enough, as he peacefully annexed the troublesome realm of Dorne by taking Myriah Martell to wife and bringing many of her Dornish customs to court. Many objected to this, and rumors arose Daeron was not even Aegon’s son but rather the result of an adulterous liaison between Aegon’s queen Naerys and the legendary Aemon the Dragonknight. Given Aegon’s faithlessness, few could have blamed the queen for seeking solace outside her marriage. If the rumor was true, however, Daeron’s claim to the throne was invalid, and rulership should have passed to one of Aegon’s legitimized sons.
Chief among these was Daemon, who had been knighted by his father at age twelve and who bore the Valyrian sword Blackfyre. Known depending on who was telling the story as Daemon Blackfyre, Daemon the Pretender, the King Who Bore the Sword, or Daemon the Traitor, the young princeling declared himself king in 195 AL and raised his own standard, a black three-headed dragon on a red field, the reverse of traditional Targaryen arms.
Blackfyre was joined by his half-brother Aegor “Bittersteel” Rivers and many other great knights, such as Robb Reyne, Black Byren Flowers, and Ser Aubrey Ambrose, as red dragon fought black for control of Westeros. It is said Daemon was invincible in combat while wielding Blackfyre, but his end came as it does to all men, when Daeron’s son Prince Maekar and Lord Hayford brought him to battle at Redgrass Field. At first, all went well for the pretender—Hayford was slain, and Blackfyre engaged Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard in single combat. Just as it seemed the black dragon was on the verge of victory, a second loyalist army under Prince Baelor arrived and took the rebels from the rear, known as “the Hammer and the Anvil.” From there, Brynden Rivers the Bloodraven—another son of Aegon who had remained loyal to Daeron—commanded his archers, the Raven’s Teeth, to rain arrows upon the pretender’s forces. Blackfyre fell to one of the Bloodraven’s own arrows, and the black dragon’s host fled in disorder.
Bittersteel rallied the disheartened rebels and led a charge against the Raven’s Teeth, taking Bloodraven’s eye in the process, but in the end, Bittersteel’s efforts were futile. Baelor’s Dornish spearmen surrounded and destroyed the surviving rebels, though Bittersteel escaped to the Free Cities along with the sword Blackfyre.
War of the Ninepenny Kings
Year: (255 – 260 AL)
It was not until two hundred and sixty years after the landing that the Seven Kingdoms were finally rid of the Blackfyre descendants. Maelys Blackfyre, called “the Monstrous” due to the reputed second head growing from his neck (the result, so the stories go, of his consuming his own twin in the womb), gathered a group of mercenaries, pirates, merchant lords, and adventurers known as the Band of Nine and sought to conquer Westeros. The band met with initial success, conquering Tyrosh and setting up bases along the Stepping Stones the remnants of the old Arm of Dorne. The Targaryens met the threat decisively, however, and under Ser Barristan Selmy, they broke the conspirators on the Stepping Stones. Maelys fell to Barristan’s blade, and one of the conspirators, Alequo Adarys the Goldentongued, escaped to Tyrosh where he lived until his death six years later. The alliance dissolved and once more, the Iron Throne remained securely in the hands of the Dragonlords, but the bloody end of Targaryen rule was soon to follow.
War of the Usurper / Robert’s Rebellion
Year: (282-283 AL)
The Targaryens had long been weakened by generations of inbreeding due to their tradition of marrying sister to brother. It was said in those days that half of all Targaryens were born mad, and in the end, it was this madness that destroyed them.
The rule of Aerys II began well enough with his ascension in the year 262 AL. Son of Jaehaerys II, Aerys was kind to his friends, enlightened in his rule, and frugal with the realm’s income—to the point the Seven Kingdoms’ coffers were overflowing with gold. He was given to fits of madness, however, and he was utterly brutal to his enemies, frequently immolating them in wildfire. Although the realm continued to prosper, and Aerys continued to take the wise advice of his council—especially that of his Hand, Tywin Lannister his bouts with madness grew more and more frequent as he grew older until all were forced to acknowledge
that the king teetered on the brink of utter insanity.
When the end came, it came quickly, though it was all started by Aerys’s son Rhaegar. Long had Crown Prince Rhaegar been in love with the beautiful Lyanna Stark, even though she was betrothed to Lord Robert Baratheon. In 282 AL, Rhaegar vanished with Lyanna, leading many, Robert chief among them, to accuse him of abducting her. Lyanna’s brother Brandon and several companions his squire Ethan Glover, Jeffory Mallister, Kyle Royce, and Elbert Arryn, the nephew and heir of the Lord of the Eyrie rode to King’s Landing to demand her return, but King Aerys’s madness got the better of him, and he ordered the young nobles seized and charged with treason. He then summoned the fathers of the prisoners, including Brandon’s father Lord Rickard Stark.
Arriving at the Red Keep with the fathers of the other knights, Lord Stark demanded trial by combat. His sanity utterly gone, King Aerys chose fire as his champion and had Lord Stark roasted in his armor as his son watched, helpless. Brandon Stark was placed in a strangulation device and died, his sword kept just out of his reach. Other prisoners were slain without trial. The Mad King then sent word to the Eyrie, demanding Lord Jon Arryn hand over the heads of Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark. Instead of complying, the three houses called their banners and rose in revolt. War had once more come to the Seven Kingdoms, and this time, it would not end until the Dragonlords’ dynasty lay in ruins.
The war was swift and bloody, and its tragic conclusion was inevitable. Robert Baratheon first saw triumph at the Battle of Summerhall, but his offensive was later blunted by Mace Tyrell at Ashford a few weeks later. In a ferocious house-to-house fight known as the Battle of the Bells, Aerys’s forces were driven from the town of Stoney Sept by the combined forces of the three allied houses. After this battle, Aerys realized Robert Baratheon was no simple bandit chieftain or rebel but rather a serious threat to his realm. He began to set stockpiles of wildfire around King’s Landing, intending to burn the city and all its inhabitants rather than surrender it to the Usurper, and he dispatched Prince Rhaegar to bring the upstart lords to heel.
The armies met where the kingsroad crossed the Trident River. There, the fate of the Targaryens was decided when Robert Baratheon slew Prince Rhaegar in single combat. Driven by rage at the prince’s abduction and rape of his betrothed Lyanna, Robert shattered the prince’s ruby-studded breastplate with a single blow from his great warhammer, and soon afterward, the loyalist host fled in disorder. Today, the place is known as Ruby Ford, and it is said that rubies from the slain prince’s armor can still be found there.
Now at last, with Aerys’s forces in full retreat and doom nearing the gates of the Red Keep, the Lannisters, who had until this time remained neutral, arrived at King’s Landing under the command of Lord Tywin Lannister. Once a fast friend of Aerys, Tywin had served as the King’s Hand until the king’s madness and bitter disagreements drove the two apart. Now it seemed Tywin had returned to save his old friend in his hour of need. Aerys opened the city gates at the advice of Grand Maester Pycelle and allowed the Lannister host entry. He was to learn of his mistake quickly, for the Lannisters turned on him and sacked the city.
Desperate, Aerys commanded his Hand, the pyromancer Lord Rossart, to ignite his wildfire caches and destroy the Lannisters, along with the entire city of King’s Landing. Further, he commanded the captain of his Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister, son of Tywin, to slay his father. Rather than obey, Jaime instead killed Rossart before he could set the town aflame and then slew King Aerys himself.
Tywin was not finished, however. He dispatched his knights Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch to slay the rest of Aerys’s family and exterminate the Targaryens once and for all. The ruthless Gregor slew the infant Prince Aegon, son of Rhaegar, and then raped and murdered Rhaegar’s wife Princess Elia of Dorne. Amory found Aegon’s daughter Princess Rhaenys cowering beneath her father’s bed, dragged her out, and put her to the sword.
So fell the house of Targaryen, but Tywin did not succeed entirely. With the help of the still-loyal Ser Willem Darry, the Mad King’s pregnant sister-wife Rhaella escaped to Dragonstone with their young son Viserys. The last Targaryen, Princess Daenerys, was born on Dragonstone a few months later. Her mother died in childbirth, and Ser Willem then took the two children to the Free Cities, where, upon reaching manhood, Viserys would plot to regain the throne. Dragonstone fell to Stannis Baratheon’s fleet—but too late to catch the last
The war was done, and the Seven Kingdoms were changed forever. The victory was a sorrowful one, for Lyanna Stark, whose supposed abduction had started the war, died in the Tower of Joy. Sad and bitter, Robert Baratheon ascended to the Iron Throne and took Tywin’s daughter Cersei Lannister to wife. The other rebels all received their due rewards, and it seemed the Seven Kingdoms had finally found peace, rid forever of the scourge of the Dragonkings.
The Greyjoy Rebellion
Year: (289 AL)
Balon Greyjoy names himself King of the Iron Islands. He is defeated and two of his sons are killed. King Robert accepts his surrender and Balon’s remaining son, Theon Greyjoy, becomes a ward and hostage of Eddard Stark.
The Rise of House Kestra
Year: (298 AL)
Where our story begins.