War of the Five Kings
|War of the Five Kings (phase I)|
|Date||298 AC - 300 AC|
|Result|| Decisive Baratheon of King's Landing, Lannister and Tyrell victory (phase I)
The War of the Five Kings is a large, multi-theater conflict fought in Westeros from 298 AC until 300 AC, though some hostilities have resumed as a new claimant to the Iron Throne has arisen as well as a new King of the Iron Islands. As the name implies, over the course of the war five men claimed the title of king: Joffrey Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, and Renly Baratheon all claimed the Iron Throne, whilst the separatists Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy attempted to secede their lands from the rule of the Iron Throne, with Robb claiming the titles of King in the North and King of the Trident and Balon claiming to be King of the Isles and the North.
The War of the Five Kings is the principal military conflict depicted in the first three novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, and its aftermath and successor conflicts continue in the latest two novels, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.
Lord Robert Baratheon of Storm's End was one of the leaders of the rebellion that overthrew King Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King, ending the Targaryen Dynasty. Following the defeat of the Targaryen forces and Aerys's death in 283 AC, Robert was crowned and reigned as king over all the Seven Kingdoms. Securing his power, Robert wed Cersei of House Lannister in 284 AC following the advice of his foster-father and Hand of the King, Lord Jon Arryn. Within a few years the royal succession was secured by three heirs: Joffrey (b. 286 AC), Myrcella (b. 290 AC), and Tommen (b. 291 AC). However, whilst Robert and the realm believed Cersei's three children to have been fathered by Robert, they had actually been fathered by Ser Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard, Queen Cersei's twin brother, with whom she had been having an incestuous relationship for years.
However, King Robert's brother, Stannis, eventually became suspicious of the legitimacy of Robert’s three children. He shared his suspicions with Lord Jon Arryn, still serving as the Hand of the King. Together, they investigated the case and concluded that the children were not Robert's, but the product of incest between Queen Cersei and her twin brother Jaime. Before they are able to address the issue to the King, however, Lord Arryn unexpectedly dies. While King Robert travelled North to appoint a new Hand of the King, Stannis, suspecting that Arryn had been murdered by the Lannisters because of their discovery regarding Cersei’s children, fled to his own stronghold on the island of Dragonstone.
Thus, Robert remained oblivious to these suspicions concerning his children, and travelled with a large part of the royal court to Winterfell to appoint his old friend, Lord Eddard Stark, as Arryn's successor as Hand of the King. Lord Eddard had originally considered to turn down the offer, but changed his mind upon the arrival of a secret message from Lysa Arryn, Jon Arryn's widow and the sister to Lord Eddard's wife, Catelyn. Lysa claimed that the Lannisters had murdered her husband, and causing Eddard to feel forced to accept Robert's appointment, as to be able to investigate Arryn's death and the involvement of House Lannister. Upon Robert’s suggestion, Eddard also accepts to a betrothal between his daughter Sansa and Prince Joffrey Baratheon.
While the royal court is at Winterfell, Lord Eddard's younger son Bran accidentally witnesses a romantic moment between Queen Cersei and Ser Jaime, and is thrown from a tower window to silence him. Bran's condition is severe, and he lies comatose for several weeks. After the royal court (including Bran's father, Lord Eddard, and his sisters Sansa and Arya) have left Winterfell for King's Landing, an assassin attempts to murder Bran in his bed. He is halted by Bran's mother, Catelyn, injuring her in the process, before being killed by Bran's direwolf pet, Summer. To inform her husband of the attempt on Bran's life, Catelyn travels south to King's Landing, where her childhood friend Petyr Baelish claims that the assassin's weapon used belonged to Tyrion Lannister, the younger brother of Queen Cersei.
While Lord Eddard begins investigating Arryn's death, Catelyn crosses paths with Tyrion Lannister in the riverlands. Deciding to arrest him, Catelyn charges him with the attempt on Bran's life, which leads to the start of conflicts in the riverlands.
Meanwhile in King's Landing, Eddard’s investigation into Arryn's death has eventually independently led him to discover the truth about Queen Cersei's children. He confronts her about the matter, offering her the option to flee, which she refuses. Eddard intends to share his discoveries with the king when Robert returns from his boar hunt. However, Robert returns having been fatally wounded by the boar, in a hunting incident which Cersei had orchestrated). Robert's younger brother and master of laws, Renly, unaware of the illegimacy of Cersei's children, proposes to Eddard that they take Cersei's children hostage, as to prevent the Lannisters from seizing power after Robert's death. Eddard refuses him, however, and Renly departs the city for Highgarden, the seat of House Tyrell.
After Robert's death, Eddard attempts a coup, sharing with the small council that Robert's brother Stannis, and not Joffrey, is Robert's true heir. He is betrayed by Petyr Baelish and the City Watch, however, and arrested and imprisoned by the Lannisters.
According to Archmaester Benedict, the name of the conflict is incorrect because Renly Baratheon is slain before Balon Greyjoy crowns himself, meaning that there are never technically five kings at once.
War of the Five Kings
The War in the Riverlands
The War of the Five Kings begins as a local conflict when Catelyn Stark seizes Tyrion Lannister for the attempted murder of her son Bran. Although he bears no special love for his son, Lord Tywin Lannister refuses to allow the slight to his family's honor to go unpunished. In response, he masses two hosts at Casterly Rock in preparation for an invasion of Catelyn’s homeland, the riverlands, of twenty thousand and fifteen thousand men, respectively.
In response to the kidnapping of his younger brother, Jaime Lannister attacks Lord Eddard Stark and his companions in the streets of King's Landing, resulting in the deaths of all of Eddard's servants, and a broken leg for Eddard himself. Jaime flees King's Landing, travelling to Casterly Rock.
When Ser Edmure Tully of Riverrun discovers that the Lannisters are raising a host, he demands that Lord Tywin proclaim his intent. When no response comes back from Casterly Rock, the Tully banners are called to Riverrun and Lords Vance and Piper are commanded to guard the main pass between the westerlands and the riverlands at the Golden Tooth.
Open hostilities begin when Lord Tywin dispatches his bannerman Ser Gregor Clegane to raid the riverlands disguised as a common brigand. The raids create chaos and force many river lords to return to their own keeps rather than attend the general muster at Riverrun. At the same time, Lord Tywin hopes the raids will lure Catelyn’s husband, Lord Eddard Stark, into the riverlands where he can be captured, bringing a swift conclusion to the conflict. However, Tywin's plan is unknowingly foiled by his son Jaime, whose ambush of Eddard in the streets of King's Landing had resulted in a broken leg for Eddard, preventing him from travelling. The wounded Hand of the King thus sends Lord Beric Dondarrion to stop Gregor Clegane in his stead.
Not long after, Eddard confronts Cersei Lannister, informing her that he has discovered the truth about the parentage of Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. He offers her a chance to flee, but Cersei does not take it. In the midst of the crisis and chaos, King Robert I Baratheon dies after a drunken hunting accident, naming Eddard Stark as Lord Regent until his supposed son, Prince Joffrey, grows to manhood. Eddard secretly changes the king’s will to read “rightful heir,” intending to offer the throne to Robert’s rightful heir, Stannis Baratheon. However, when Eddard attempts to take Joffrey into custody as a false claimant he is betrayed by Petyr Baelish and arrested. By this time, King Robert’s youngest brother, Renly Baratheon, has fled the city to gather his own army.
When word of Lord Eddard’s arrest arrives in Winterfell, Robb Stark calls his father’s bannermen together and marches south with a hastily assembled host of twelve thousand men, gathering more as he moves south. At the same time, Lord Tywin launches his planned invasion of the riverlands.
With its armies broken and scattered, its seat of power besieged, and its heir Edmure Tully captured, the war is essentially lost for House Tully. Although Ser Marq Piper and Lord Karyl Vance begin guerrilla raids and Lord Jason Mallister falls back to his stronghold at Seagard, the only hope for the Tullys lies with the northmen, who are held in check by the Green Fork and the second Lannister host under Lord Tywin.
The Wolf and the Lion
The Lannisters meet their first real opposition when House Stark enters the war on behalf of House Tully, in response to the arrest of Lord Eddard Stark. After assembling his force on the march, Robb Stark arrives at Moat Cailin with eighteen thousand men, where he is joined by his mother Catelyn and a final fifteen hundred men from White Harbor, bringing his total close to twenty thousand men. Moat Cailin is a formidable defensive position that has defeated countless southron invaders in the past. Here Robb garrisons a small force, consisting mostly of archers, to hold the ruin. Additionally, Robb sends word to Howland Reed to have the crannogmen bleed any Lannister attempt to come north. However, Robb knows Lord Tywin is too smart to try and will stay close to the Trident, taking castles one by one.
Robb has no choice but to move south, but his options are limited. To relieve Riverrun, he must cross the Green Fork either at the Twins (where House Frey has remained decidedly neutral) or at the ruby ford (which Lord Tywin can easily seal off). Eventually, Robb decides to do both. Splitting his horse and foot, Robb sends the foot with Lord Roose Bolton down the kingsroad to engage Lord Tywin, while secretly crossing with his horse at the Twins to race to Riverrun and surprise the besiegers. In exchange for his crossing and the support of the Freys (who provide four thousand men), Catelyn takes two of Lord Walder Frey's grandsons to ward, and Robb agrees to marry one of Lord Walder's daughters.
The Crowning of the Five Kings
With the deaths of King Robert I Baratheon and Lord Eddard Stark, the realm sees the rise of multiple kings trying to fill the void. Robert's supposed son Joffrey Baratheon assumes the Iron Throne in King's Landing. Unable or unwilling to accept Joffrey as king, four rival kings soon arise to contest for power in Westeros. In order of proclamation, the kings are:
The Rise of the Kraken
Having set his sights on the north, King Balon Greyjoy plans three main strikes for his initial invasion. He sends his brother Victarion with the Iron Fleet to seize Moat Cailin, which has protected the north from southern invasion for thousands of years, in order to cut off the northmen from their lands. He sends his daughter and preferred heir Asha Greyjoy with a dozen ships to take Deepwood Motte. He sends his recently-returned son Theon to raid the Stony Shore as a distraction for his main strikes. With these moves, Balon believes the whole western coast of the north will fall into ironborn hands.
The Clash of Kings
In the riverlands, after the Battle of the Camps, Lord Tywin Lannister is content to wait at Harrenhal, providing for his forces by pillaging the riverlands while Ser Stafford Lannister raises a new army near Lannisport. Aware of the fact that he lacks the strength to march against Lord Tywin, Robb Stark sends Ser Cleos Frey to King's Landing to offer peace terms. Catelyn Stark, Robb's mother, believes that Renly Baratheon could be the key, and she is sent as an envoy to strike an alliance. Robb, knowing that remaining at Riverrun will make it seem as if he is afraid to take to the field once more, personally leads an army to invade the westerlands with northmen and Freys. Ser Edmure Tully remains at Riverrun to guard his rear.
In the aftermath of the Battle of the Blackwater, hundreds of new knights are made and several new lords are created to replace those killed in the battle. All those who fought for Stannis and do not repent are attainted and their lands are given to men loyal to the Iron Throne. In this way, the Lannisters and Tyrells take control of the stormlands with the exception of Storm's End, which holds out for Stannis.
The Lannister-Tyrell alliance is formalized by the betrothal of King Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell, the widow of King Renly Baratheon. As reward for his part in brokering the alliance, Petyr Baelish is promoted to the lordship of Harrenhal and declared Lord Paramount of the Trident.
Turning of the Tides
The Battle of the Blackwater turns the tides for House Lannister. King Stannis Baratheon no longer has the strength to press his claim while King Joffrey I Baratheon's power is cemented by the new Lannister-Tyrell alliance. In addition, Tyrion Lannister, acting Hand of the King, has previously bound Dorne to Joffrey's cause by betrothing Princess Myrcella to Trystane Martell. This brings nearly all Westeros south of the riverlands under the control of the Lannisters and their allies. Tywin Lannister, now in King's Landing as Hand of the King, continues to resist Robb Stark's cause in ways other than battle.
Meanwhile, despite never losing a battle himself, King Robb Stark's cause is faltering. Upon his return from the westerlands, he is faced with the arrest of his own mother, who had freed Jaime Lannister from his imprisonment in the hopes of saving her daughters Sansa and Arya from the Lannisters. Catelyn's actions cause frictions amongst Robb's men. Further friction is caused by Robb himself, who returns from his campaign in the westerlands married to Jeyne Westerling, despite his previous promise to marry a girl from House Frey. Consequently, the Frey forces abandon Robb and return to the Twins in protest. Additionally, a large part of Robb's northern homeland and his own castle of Winterfell have fallen to the ironmen of King Balon Greyjoy. All of this causes Robb to change his focus in the war and look north again.
After the fall of several northern seats (including Winterfell) to the ironborn, King Robb Stark sees no other choice than to return north in order to win his Kingdom back and avenge the deaths of this brothers, Bran and Rickon, who are believed to be dead. Following the loss of the Karstark forces, Robb seeks to renew his alliance with House Frey, in order to obtain more men.
The Fall of the Kings
Lord Walder Frey agrees to reconcile with Robb on the condition that Robb apologizes in person and that Edmure Tully, now Lord of Riverrun following the death of Hoster Tully, marry his daughter Roslin, in place of the broken betrothal made with Robb. Robb moves north with the thirty-five hundred men who had followed him since the Whispering Wood, leaving Ser Brynden Tully and the river lords to defend the Trident, and plans to meet up with Roose Bolton at the Twins.
After Joffrey's death is confirmed, Cersei Lannister orders the arrest of Tyrion and his wife Sansa Stark, though in truth the poison was supplied by Petyr Baelish via Dontos Hollard and administered by Olenna Tyrell.
Tyrion Lannister is put on trial, with Lords Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell, and Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne presiding over him. Sansa Stark has fled King's Landing, preventing her arrest, and is now on her way to the Vale with Petyr Baelish. In truth, the poison used to kill Joffrey had been supplied by Lord Petyr, via Dontos Hollard, and was administred by Lady Olenna Tyrell. Meanwhile, the remnants of Robb Stark's kingdom are left without a king, and the Bolton’s prepare to take their place of power in the North.
The Feasting Crows
The death of Robb Stark is a blow to his young Kingdom. The Red Wedding was orchestrated by Tywin Lannister and planned by Lothar Frey and Roose Bolton. For his part Roose is appointed Warden of the North by King Tommen, while his newly legitimized bastard son Ramsay is betrothed to an imposter forced to pose as Arya Stark. Walder Frey is rewarded with several satisfying marriage pacts and the castle of Riverrun for his second son Emmon (who is married to Tywin's sister Genna), but the title of Lord Paramount of the Trident remains with Lord Petyr Baelish of Harrenhal.
The betrayels of House Frey and House Bolton give the Lannisters a power in the riverlands and north. Meanwhile, King Tommen I Baratheon is crowned as successor to his brother Joffrey, with Lord Tywin Lannister ruling as Hand of the King and Regent. The Lannister victory seems secure, but the crucial relationship between the Lannisters and the Tyrells quickly begins to fray after several sudden deaths further upset the balance of power.
Following the deaths of Renly Baratheon and Robb Stark and the defeat of Stannis Baratheon at the Blackwater, nearly all of Westeros submits to the Iron Throne. Houses Tully, Mallister, and Blackwood hold out for a time in the riverlands, but no longer pose a serious threat. Likewise, Stannis remains in possession of Dragonstone and Storm's End, though he lacks the strength for open war.
Meanwhile, Balon Greyjoy’s death on the Iron Islands is followed by the return of his exiled younger brother, Euron, the very next day. Euron immediately claims Balon’s throne, but their youngest brother, Aeron, refuses to accept Euron as his king, and calls for a Kingsmoot.
The War for the North
Both Stannis Baratheon and Roose Bolton attempt to carve out new power bases in the vacuum left by the downfall of House Stark. For his part in helping orchestrating the Red Wedding, Roose is appointed Warden of the North by King Tommen before Tywin Lannister’s death. To cement his position, Roose's bastard son Ramsay Snow is legitimized and betrothed to an imposter forced to pose as Arya Stark. Four thousand men of House Frey march north with him, while three of Lord Walder Frey’s descendants travel to White Harbor to gain the support of House Manderly.
Meanwhile, Stannis Baratheon has set sail from Dragonstone after being informed by his new Hand of the King, Davos Seaworth, of a plea from the Night's Watch. Davos convinces his king to concentrate on his duties, rather than his rights, causing Stannis to take his meager forces north by ship and arrive at Castle Black just as the wildling army of Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall, attacks Castle Black.
Following Aeron Greyjoy's call for a kingsmoot, both Victarion and Asha Greyjoy have abandoned their northern conquests, leaving only a token force. After Euron is elected King, Asha flees back north, where she finds herself facing Stannis Baratheon.
The accidents the Freys have suffered due to the trap set by Mors Umber appears to have slowed down the attack. Stannis remains at the crofter's village with his army, and is confident in his chances. At Castle Black, however, Lord Commander Jon Snow receives a letter, in which it is claimed that Stannis's army was defeated and Stannis was killed. The veracity of the letter remains unconfirmed.
The War of the Five Kings results in vast devastation and death. The burning of crops and food supplies by rival armies means that with winter now engulfing Westeros as of 300 AC, many more will starve and die. The riverlands have borne the brunt of the fighting but the north, the westerlands, and the stormlands have been hit hard by the war as well. While the Reach did not suffer land hostilities, its resources have been used to supply the armies supported by House Tyrell and it is now suffering raiding and invasions by the ironborn. The only two regions to so far to stay out of the war and keep their armies and food supplies intact are the Vale of Arryn and Dorne.
New Conflicts Arise (Phase II)