Season six of Game of Thrones is underway, and they are making more and more connections to the past events that happened before or during Robert’s Rebellion. It can all get pretty confusing so here’s a handy timeline to help keep these events straight.
This article was originally published on 26 March, 2015 in response to the article Rob Bricken wrote about all the fan theories that you absolutely need to know about Game of Thrones in anticipation of the show’s fifth season.
I originally wrote that if you’re only watching the show, I don’t think you absolutely need to know those theories, because it’s obvious they’re steering the series in a different direction. However, if you’re reading the books and want to theorize, here is a helpful guide to dissecting the events prior to the first book. Now though, with the show making connections to the past, something like this might be helpful.
It is important to know, that while we have a general idea of timeline, GRRM is fervent that he writes the way histories in the “olden days” were written, that is to say imprecise.
All information that is forthcoming is either from Westeros.org or from the “Historical” A World of Fire and Ice. Below is just the facts devoid of my opinion on any of the theories one way or another.
This guide is spoiler filled for Books 1-5, even though we’re talking about events that happened before the start of the series, as much of this info is given to readers over the course of the series, additionally there might be information that is new to you because it was revealed through interviews with GRRM or in the book The World of Ice and Fire. If you want to avoid spoilers for TWoIaF, or if you don’t want to learn any new info, avoid reading. You have been warned.
Let’s Take a Look at The Players First
I’m not going to get into the players you are already familiar with, members of House Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, or familiar faces from King’s Landing, such as Littlefinger, Varys, and Maester Pycelle. But there are players worth mentioning that died before the events that are worth knowing a little bit about to understand some of the context.
Knights of the Kingsguard
1. Gerold Hightower, Lord Commander
- Predecessor: Lord Duncan the Tall
- Aliases: The White Bull
- House: Hightower of Oldtown
- Notable Feats: Fought Kingswood Brotherhood when they attacked Princess Elia of Dorne’s escort
- Death: Presumably at the Tower of Joy
2. Lewyn Martell
- Aliases: None
- House: Martell of Sunspear
- Notable Feats: Lead 10,000 Dornishmen in the Battle of the Trident
- Death: Fighting at the Battle of the Trident
- Uncle to Princess Elia, brother to Princess of Dorne who ruled at the time
3. Barristan Selmy
- Aliases: Barristan the Bold
- House: Son of the Knight of Harvest Hall (landed knight)
- Notable Feats: received his knighthood at the age of sixteen from King Aegon V after unhorsing Prince Duncan and Lord Commander Duncan the Tall of the Kingsguard at a tourney in King’s Landing; Slew Maelys the Monstrous in single combat in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, ending the line of the Blackfyre pretenders; Given White Cloak by Gerold Hightower; Rescued Aerys II who was imprisoned at Duskendale; Suffered grave wound at the Trident, but was healed by a Maester at Robert’s command.
4. Oswel Whent
- Aliases: None
- House: Whent of Harrenhal
- Notable Feats: None recorded
- Death: Presumably at the Tower of Joy
5. Arthur Dayne
- Aliases: The Sword of Morning
- House: Dayne of Starfall
- Notable Feats: Defeated the Kingswood Brotherhood after Hightower suffered injury, slew the Smiling Knight in single combat, Said to be the deadliest of Aerys’s Kingsguard
- Death: Presumably at the Tower of Joy
6. Jonothor Darry
- Aliases: None
- House: Darry of Castle Darry (in the Riverlands)
- Notable Feats: None Recorded
- Death: Battle of the Trident
7. Jamie Lannister
- Aliases: The Kingslayer
- House: Lannister of Casterly Rock
- Notable Feats: Fought the Kingswood Brotherhood, Knighted by Arthur Dayne after, Given the White Cloak by Gerold Hightower at Tourney of Harrenhall, killed King Aerys II, Fought in the War of Five Kings
- Death: Forthcoming
- Mentally unstable, especially following his imprisonment of Duskendale
- Had a lot of mistresses, and bastards, some of noble heritage but after the death of his infant son Jaehaerys Aerys seemingly repented his ways and stayed faithful to his wife (275 AL)*
- Sister to Aerys
- Had 3 miscarriages, 2 stillbirths, and 2 children died in infancy, with three children surviving (Aerys originally believes these children didn’t survive because they were the result of Rhaella’s infidelity).
- Died in childbirth to her youngest child, Danaerys, who was born nine months after being sent to Dragonstone and just before the Sack of King’s Landing**
- Considered a talented musician and skilled knight
- Loved by the smallfolk and minor lords
- Had 2 squires, Myles Mooton and Richard Lonmouth
- Killed by Robert Baratheon at the Battle of the Trident in single combat
Princess Elia Martell
- Frail with delicate health, nearly died giving birth to youngest son, Aegon
- Her mother arranged her marriage to Rhaegar
Some Members of Aerys’s Small Council
- Qarlton Chelsted, Master of Coin
- Lucerys Valaryon, Master of Ships
- Symon Staunton, Master of Laws
- Varys, Master of Whispers
- Wisdom Rossart, Grand Master of the Alchemists Guild
- Steffon Baratheon: Aerys sent him to Volantis to find a bride “of noble birth from an old Valyrian bloodline” for Prince Rhaegar. On the return voyage Steffon’s ship, the Windproud, was caught in a storm while in Shipbreaker Bay and sank within sight of Storm’s End, killing Steffon along with his wife, Cassana Estermont, and one hundred men. Steffon was succeeded as Lord of Storm’s End by his son, Robert Baratheon.
The False Spring
In late 280 AL it was believed that Spring was at last coming and Lord Whent announced the Tourney of Harrenhal. It is one of the important events that lead up to Robert’s Rebellion, and many fan theories have some connection to events that may or may not have happened at this Tourney. We know that it happened in the year 281, thought the exact date is imprecise.
Those we Know were in Attendance at the Tourney of Harrenhal
- King Aerys, Queen Rhaella, Prince Rhaegar, Princess Elia and a dozen ladies-in-waiting
- All 7 of the Kingsguard (Jamie was later sent away)
- Brandon (20?), Eddard (18), Lyanna (14), and Benjen Stark (Wild Wolf, Quiet Wolf, She-Wolf/Wolf Maid, Young Pup)
- Howland Reed (Curious lad who lived in the Neck)
- Robert Baratheon (Storm Lord)
- Mace Tyrell (Rose Lord)
- Lord and Lady Whent and their four sons and daughter
- Richard Lonmouth (Knight of Skulls and Kisses)
- Ashara Dayne (Maid with Laughing Purple Eyes, one of Elia’s ladies-in-waiting)
- Prince Oberyn Martell (Red Snake, aka Red Viper)
- Jon Connington (Lord of Griffins)
What we Know Happened
- Planned by Lord Whent by suggestion from Oswel Whent, his brother and member of the Kingsguard, in honor of his daughter.
- There is believed to be a ‘shadow host’ who arranged this tourney for an ulterior motive, and is given credence because Whent didn’t seem to have enough money to cover the expenses that the tourney boasted. No shadow host was ever proven though.
- King Aerys II attends the tourney only because Varys warns him that his son Rhaegar arranged the tournament as a pretext to meet with several high lords to discuss removing Aerys as king. This is his first time leaving the Red Keep since his imprisonment in Duskendale.
- Jaime Lannister is raised to Kingsguard, but is sent back to King’s Landing and not allowed to compete in tourney.
- Tywin Lannister steps down as Hand of the King, angry at King Aerys for appointing Jaime to Kingsguard, replaced by Owen Merryweather
- Lyanna defeated three squires with a tourney sword to defend Howland Reed and then cared for his wounds
- Rhaegar sings a sad song, causing Lyanna to cry
- A Black Brother was present, asking for knights to join the Night’s Watch
- Ashara danced with Arthur Dayne, Oberyn Martell, Jon Connington, and with Ned (after Brandon asked on his behalf)
- Benjen offered to find armor and horse for Howland Reed to challenge his attackers
- A Mystery Knight appeared with ill-fitting armor and his device was a white weirwood with a laughing red face he defeated the knights of the squires who attacked Howland. When they went to ransom their horses they were told, “Teach your squires honor, that shall be ransom enough”
- The Mystery Knight disappeared, Robert and Richard Lonmouth swore to find him
- Aerys sent Rhaegar to find the Mystery Knight, but he failed***
- Rhaegar defeated Brandon Stark, Bronze Yohn Royce, Arthur Dayne, and Barriston Selmy to claim the champion’s crown
- Rhaegar crowned Lyanna Stark “The Queen of Love and Beauty” over his wife, Elia Martell***
- All the Stark sons are distraught over Rhaegar crowing Lyanna, Brandon wanted to duel him but was restrained. Robert, who was already betrothed to her, laughed it off saying Rhaegar was only “giving Lyanna her due”, but its believed this was just a facade.
Following the Tourney
In a World of Ice and Fire we know the false spring lasted two years, and it is said that as winter returned, Rhaegar could not be found at his home in Dragonstone, nor at the Red Keep, but rather after the last day of the year, not 10 leagues from Harrenhal he kidnapped Lyanna. Here is an example of the timeline being fuzzy. The end the the year, which implies the end of 281, is when he kidnapped her. We don’t know how much time passed between the tourney and this event, sometime between a few weeks to several months. Given everyone’s locations during the kidnapping it is unlikely that any amount of time less than two weeks passed.
What we do Know (Dates in Parenthesis are Best Educated Guess)
Before the Kidnapping
- Aegon Targaryen is born in King’s Landing, Rhaegar believes “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” (maybe late 281 AL?)
- Petyr Baelish hears about Catelyn’s betrothal and gets super drunk and ends up bedding Lysa Tully and takes her virginity, drunk Baelish thinks it was Catelyn (281 AL)
- In Riverrun, Baelish (15 years old) challenges Brandon Stark (20 years old) for Catelyn Tully’s hand in marriage (281 AL)
- At Catelyn’s request, Brandon does not kill Baelish, but Baelish gets severely injured and is forced to stop (281 AL)
- Brandon then departs Riverrun and promises to return soon for Catelyn and his wedding (281 AL)
- Drunk and injured Baelish is comforted by Lysa Tully, he beds her again and gets her with child (281 AL)
- Hoster Tully finds out about Lysa being pregnant, unworthy of being married to Lysa, Baelish is sent back to his home in The Fingers in disgrace (281 AL)
- Hoster forces Lysa to drink “Moon Tea” to purge herself of the pregnancy, Lysa nearly dies but it causes a successful abortion (281 AL)
After the Kidnapping
- Brandon Stark on his way to Riverrun to marry Catelyn Stark hears his sister, Lyanna, has been taken by Rhaegar Targaryen. We know that Catelyn saw him before he went off (282 AL)
- Brandon goes to King’s Landing and demands Rhaegar returns Lyanna, accompanied by Ethan Glover, Elbert Arryn (Jon’s Heir), Kyle Royce, and Joffery Mallister. Brandon and his friends are imprisoned (282 AL)
- Rickard Stark and other fathers to those imprisoned with Brandon go to KL to answer for the children’s crimes/imprisonment. (282 AL)
- Rickard demands a trial by combat, Aerys chooses “Fire” as his champion and burns Rickard to death. Brandon watches his father die with a noose around his neck and a sword just out of his reach. Trying to reach the sword to save his father, Brandon strangles himself (282 AL)
- King Aerys kills every one of Brandon’s companions and their fathers, except Ethan Glover who is thrown in the dungeons. It is unknown why this one boy was spared (282 AL)
- King Aerys sends a letter to Jon Arryn demanding he send Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark’s (Jon Arryn’s wards at the time) to KL for punishment. Jon Arryn refuses (282 AL)
It is stated that Robert’s Rebellion began, not with Robert himself, but with Jon Arryn raising his banners. and refusing to hand over his wards. Robert didn’t want the crown himself, but with the death of the main Targaryen family the argument was made his was the rightful claim as his grandmother was a Targaryen and sister to King Jaehaerys, father of the Mad King. This meant that Robert was 1/4 Targaryen blood.
- Jon Arryn raises his banners (Vassals of the Vale) in revolt, Gulltown alone of the Vale sides with Iron Throne loyalists (282 AL)
- Eddard leaves the Eyrie for Winterfell, he goes through the fingers because port of Gulltown supports Targaryens (282 AL)
- Battle of Gulltown, Jon Arryn and Robert Baratheon attack Gulltown, Robert leads the attack, scales the walls of Gulltown and slays Lord Grafton, ruler of Gulltown (282 AL)
- Robert Baratheon returns to Storm’s End and raises his banners (Vassals of the Stormlands) (282 AL)
- Eddard barely makes it to the Three Sisters on a fishing boat, then he goes to White Harbor and finally to Winterfell, raises his Banners (Vassals of the North) (282 AL)
- Greyjoy’s stay neutral, Lannisters do not choose a side and do not answer any ravens from anyone yet. (282 AL)
- Tyrell raises banners (Vassals of the Reach) and joins in support of the Iron Throne loyalists. (282 AL)
- The 3 Battles of Summerhall take place, Lords Cafferen, Fell, and Grandison plan to apprehend Robert and capture him at Summerhall which was Owen Merryweather’s idea. Robert defeats each Lord as they arrive, he slays Lord Fell and captures his son Silveraxe, and he captures Lord Cafferen. Robert treats the conspirators as friends and through his charm and open-handedness, wins their undying loyalty, Stormland’s united for Rebel cause (283 AL)
- Owen Merryweather, who supported the idea of the Stormland vassals attacking Robert at Summerhall, exiled and replaced by Jon Connington as Hand (283 AL)
- Battle of Ashford, Fairly indecisive but Loyalists claim victory, Tyrell army led by Randyl Tarly (AKA Sam’s father) makes Robert’s army retreat to Stoney Sept (283 AL)
- Tyrell troops go to Storm’s End to lay siege, Stannis Baratheon is in charge of Storm’s End, Mace Tyrell is in charge of siege (283 AL)
- Connington amasses forces in King’s Landing and leads them to Stony Sept to capture Robert. Even though he is already injured, Robert kills six knights that day, including the famous Myles Mooton. It is this victory that leads Hoster Tully to side with the Rebellion, arranging marriages of his daughters. (283 AL)
- John Arryn and Eddard Stark go back to Riverrun and marry Lysa and Catelyn Tully, Robert watches them get married. Robb Stark conceived (283 AL)
- Jon Connington blamed for defeat at Stoney Sept, and is exiled and dismissed as hand replaced with Qarlton Chelsted (283 AL)
- Tywin Lannister calls his banners and gathers his armies (283 AL)
Rhaegar Joins the Fight
- Aerys wants Rhaegar, so he sends Gerold Hightower after him. He finds Rhaegar at the Tower of Joy near Dorne with Arthur Dayne, Oswell Whent and Lyanna Stark. Rhaegar leaves the Tower of Joy to return to King’s Landing and lead the loyalist army while Gerold Hightower remains.****
- Rhaegar arrives at King’s Landing and marshals an army (283 AL)
- King Aerys does not allow Jaime Lannister to go fight in the Battle of the Trident because he wants Jaime as a hostage in King’s Landing if Tywin decides to march on King’s Landing. As Rhaegar is leaving to go to his army, he tells Jaime Lannister that changes will be made when he returns from the battlefield and for Jaime to protect his children (283 AL)
- Prince Lewyn Martell reluctantly leads 10,000 Dornish and marches to the Trident under threat of harm to his niece, Princess Elia (283 AL)
- Qarlton Chelsted steps down as hand, burned alive, replaced by the pyromancer Rossart (283 AL)
- Aerys rapes his wife after he is aroused by Qarlton Chelstad being burned to death, Dany could supposedly be conceived at this event, and Jaime stands guard outside the Queen’s room. (283 AL)
The Battle of the Trident
- Ser Barriston Selmy and Ser Jonothor Darry gather remnants of Jon Connington’s old army and march to the Trident (283 AL)
- While waiting for Rhaegar at the Trident, Robert finally declares his claim for the Iron Throne (283 AL)
- Rhaegar Targaryen is killed by Robert Baratheon, loyalists surrender, Rebels win (283 AL)
- Of the Kingsguard, Lewyn Martell and Ser Jonothor Darry died during battle, and Ser Barriston Selmy was severely wounded. Robert sent his own Maester to care for him.
- Tywin Lannister marches very quickly on King’s Landing (283 AL)
- Queen Rhaella and Viserys Targaryen go to Dragonstone for safety. King Aerys does not allow Princess Elia Martell to leave King’s Landing because he is suspicious of House Martell and wants a hostage in King’s Landing so they remain allies.
- Robert is injured following the Battle of the Trident, so he sends Eddard to take King’s Landing, he tries to beat Lannisters there believing they are marching to aid the Targaryens. (283 AL)
The Sack of King’s Landing
- King Aerys listens to Grand Maester Pycelle instead of Varys and decides to open the gates for Tywin and the Lannisters, Lannisters sack King’s Landing (283 AL)
- King Aerys plans to burn the entire city with wildfire rather than let the rebels take KL Jaime recognizes Aerys plans to destroy King’s Landing, and kills the Pryromancer Rossart and then kills King Aerys in the throne room. Ser Elys Westerling and Lord Roland Crakehall enter throne room just as Jaime kills King Aerys witnessing the events. (283 AL)
- Jaime waits in the Throne room, not knowing that Rhaegar’s family is in danger
- Amory Lorch and Gregor Clegane scale the walls of the Red Keep, on Tywin Lannister’s orders to kill Rhaenys and Aegon Targaryen (283 AL)
- Rhaenys Targaryen (3-4 years old) pulled from under her bed and murdered, brutally stabbed near a hundred times by Amory Lorch (283 AL)
- Aegon Targaryen (Baby, around 1 year old) murdered, skull crushed against wall by Gregor Clegane (283 AL)
- Princess Elia Martell raped and murdered by Gregor Clegane (283 AL)
- Eddard Stark arrives in King’s Landing to find the city already being sacked by the Lannisters. He goes to the throne room to claim it for Robert Baratheon as King, he finds King Aerys dead and Jaime Lannister sitting on the throne (283 AL)
- Jon Snow is born to an unknown mother. (GRRM is quoted as saying he was born 9 months before Dany who was born 9 months after the sack)
- Robert Baratheon eventually arrives at King’s Landing, Tywin presents him the dead bodies of Rhaenys and Aegon Targaryen to show loyalty. Robert and Eddard have big argument over the morality of the deaths of Rhaeagar’s children and they argue over what to do with Jamie Lannister, Eddard wants him to join the Night’s Watch, Robert keeps him as a member of his Kingsguard (283 AL)
- Robert has a brief coronation and sits the Iron Throne.
- Eddard angrily goes to Storm’s End to lift the siege, Tyrells and Redwynes immediately kneel to Robert as King upon learning of the Sack and deaths of the King and Prince. (283 AL)
- Jamie hunts down and kills two pyromancers Belis and Garigus in King’s Landing (283 AL)
The Tower of Joy
- After freeing Storm’s End, Eddard Stark and 6 companions go to the Tower of Joy (283 AL)
- The 3 Kingsguard do not let Eddard go in the TOJ, A fight happens and only Eddard and Howland Reed survive (283 AL)
- Eddard goes up the tower and finds a dying Lyanna. No clear reason for her dying is given***** (283 AL)
- Before her death, Lyanna makes Eddard give her a promise, the exact details of which are unknown.
- Eddard names his supposed bastard baby Jon after Jon Arryn.
- Eddard goes to Starfall to return Ser Arthur Dayne’s sword to his family. (283 AL)
- Ashara Dayne apparently commits suicide, she jumps from Palestone Sword tower into the sea, her body was never recovered****** (283 AL)
- While in Starfall, Eddard needs to feed Jon so he uses the wet nurse Wylla to provide Jon with milk. (283 AL)
- Eddard goes to King’s Landing and tells Robert that Lyanna is dead, they rekindle their friendship by mourning together over her.
- Eddard returns to Winterfell with Lyanna’s bones, a baby and a wet nurse
- Robb Stark born in Riverrun sometime towards the end of the war, or shortly after its conclusion, he and Catelyn Stark (née Tully) arrive in Winterfell and Eddard is already there with Jon who he tells Catelyn is his bastard
- (In a Bran vision) Eddard is seen praying underneath the Weirwood tree in Winterfell’s Godswood hoping that Jon and Robb can be as brothers
- Benjen Stark joins the Night’s Watch after Eddard returns to Winterfell and has Robb as his heir*******
After the Rebellion
- After arriving in Dragonstone and hearing news that Aerys, Aegon and Rheanys are dead, Viserys Targaryen is declared king by the few remaining Targaryen Supporters (283 AL)
- Jon Arryn is named Hand of the King (283 AL)
- King Robert marries Cersei Lannister (284 AL)
- Daenerys Targaryen is born on Dragonstone, Rhaella Targaryen dies in childbirth (284 AL)
- Willem Darry smuggles Daenerys and Viserys out of Dragonstone to the free city of Bravos (284 AL)
- Stannis Baratheon takes Dragonstone, and Robert names Stannis the Lord of Dragonstone******** (284 AL)
- Renly Baratheon is named Lord of Storm’s End (284 AL)
- Jon Arryn visits Dorne and negotiates peace, Seven kingdoms all at peace (284 AL)
- Joffrey Baratheon is born, Son of Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister (Actual biological son of Jaime Lannister) (286 AL)
- Sansa Stark is born, Daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully (287 AL)
- Stannis Baratheon marries Selyse Florent (287 AL)
- Greyjoy Rebellion, Greyjoys lose (289 AL)
- Theon Greyjoy becomes Eddard Stark’s ward (289 AL)
- King Robert holds Tourney of Lannisport to celebrate victory over Greyjoy Rebellion, Jorah Mormont wins Joust (289 AL)
- Arya Stark born, Daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully (289 AL)
- Shireen Baratheon born, daughter of Stannis Baratheon and Selyse Baratheon (née Florent) (289 AL)
- Myrcella Baratheon born, Daughter of Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister (Actual biological daughter of Jaime Lannister) (290 AL)
- Bran Stark born, Son of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully (291 AL)
- Gerion Lannister goes on a quest to find the ancestral sword of House Lannister, Brightroar, and any other treasures that might have survived the Doom of Valyria. He is never heard from again. (292 AL)
- Tommen Baratheon born, Son of Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister (Actual biological son of Jaime Lannister) (291 AL)
- Littlefinger joins small council as Master of Coins and becomes Lysa Tully’s secret lover in King’s Landing (292 AL)
- Robert Arryn born, son of Jon Arryn and Lysa Tully (292 AL)
- Rickon Stark born, Son of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully (295 AL)
- Euron Greyjoy exiled from the Iron Islands (297 AL)
- Beginning of Game of Thrones (298 AL)
*After Aerys repents his wife doesn’t lose another child
**Jaime hears Aerys raping his wife shortly before she is sent away, some use this to speculate that Dany is a child of that rape and have theories based around that. This is one event that Jaime feels regret about because he was supposed to protect her, “but not from him”.
***Many believe Lyanna was the Mystery Knight, and Rhaegar did find her, but let her go after she told him the story of what had happened and then crowned her the Queen of Love and Beauty because of those actions.
****The presence of three Kingsguard, including the Lord Commander, seems to suggest that someone of Royal blood was present, which is one of the points made by those in support of the Lyanna and Rhaegar had a child together theory.
*****Lyanna dying from childbirth is a common answer, but given the date that Jon was supposedly born, and when Ned arrived to the tower, it seems a long time (about 2 months) for her to be dying of complications from Jon’s birth if she is the mother. However, again we can blame fuzzy timelines.
******Based solely on the fact that her body was never recovered many believe that she may yet live is some way.
*******There is never a reason given as to why Benjen chose theNight’s Watch, but it is specified he only did so after Ned was safe and had a male heir.
********Lord of Dragonstone was historically Kings of Westeros styled their heirs, by giving Stannis the title Robert named his heir until he sired son of his own. Stannis, however, saw this as a slight because Dragonstone wasn’t as prosperous as Storm’s End.