Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fraternal Orders in Game of Thrones

If you have not yet read the books or seen the 
TV show, please note there are spoilers ahead.

I've been re-reading the series A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIF) and with the HBO show "Game of Thrones" ended I thought it fun to write about some of the organizations within the ASOIF universe. I chose to use "fraternal orders" within the name as I'm looking at groups that have elements found within Freemasonry. There are many groups within the ASOIF series such as sellswords (mercenaries), religious, knighthoods, naval, academic, alchemical, assassins, insurgents, banking, and mercantile. This article will be focusing upon the Alchemists Guild, the Warlocks, Order of Maesters, and the knighthoods of the Faith Militant, the Kingsguard, the Queensguard, the Rainbow Guard, the Brotherhood of Winged Knights, and the Order of the Green Hand. Please note that these groups differ particularly they are operative rather than speculative.

For those unfamiliar, A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of fictitious books written by George R.R. Martin which centers on a make-believe world where seasons last for years and are unpredictable. The continent of Westeros was once a land composed of several kingdoms, but 300-years prior to the first book, a family known as the Targaryens conquered Westeros and established a single kingdom based upon military supremacy through the use of dragons. The Targaryens ruled for three centuries when civil war broke out led by the Baratheon family. The Targaryens were deposed and the Targaryen children were exiled. Seventeen years after this rebellion, a power struggle ensues among the great houses over the control of the Iron Throne. The secondary storyline follows the defense of Westeros by Night's Watch against wildlings, but more importantly against the Others (ice demons) and their wights (undead army). The third storyline follows Daenerys Targaryen and her quest to get back to Westeros and reclaim her family's regency over the Iron Throne.



The Alchemists' Guild

The Alchemists' Guild or Guild of Alchemists is an old order of pyromancers, which is the controlling fire through magic and/or the divination through the use of fire. They also claim to be able to transmute metals. They were once a powerful organization within the continent of Westeros that claimed to have ancient magical and arcane knowledge, but as the Order of Maester's rose, their prominence declined. They were popular among some of the Targaryen monarchs, but by the time of Robert's Rebellion, they are a shadow of what they once were. They had lost favor after Prince Aerion Targaryen drank wildfire thinking it would turn him into a dragon, but regained the favor during the reign of Aerys II, also called the Mad King, who would use pyromancers to execute his perceived enemies.

Anymore, the Guild is relegated to only the creation of wildfire which the Guild calls "the Substance." The wildfire was modeled after Greek fire. Wildfire is described as a "volatile green liquid that burns for a long time." Once lit, the wildfire will burn until it is no more and will catch most material it touches on fire, to include water. The formula for making wildfire is a closely guarded secret of the Guild who claims it involves magic. This claim may be true as magic seems to re-emerge after the birth of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons and which coincides in an exponential increase in the production of wildfire. The Guild keeps wildfire in clay jars and they are placed in stone cells. If there were to be an ignition, the room has sand in a compartment above it to extinguish it. The wildfire was used in the Battle of the Blackwater and, in the show, when Queen Cercei used it to destroy the Great Sept of Baelor.


When one joins the Guild, you would start out as an Apprentice then move to an Acolyte before you become a full member which are referred to as "Wisdom" and they are led by a "Grand Master." Wisdoms wear striped black-and-scarlet robes for their uniform. Their headquarters is located on the Street of the Sisters near Visenya's Hill in King's Landing. Unlike the Order of Maesters, the Alchemist's Guild has members only in the major cities and castles in Westeros. 



Warlocks

Warlocks are magic practitioners in Essos and headquartered in the city-state of Qarth. They are housed in the House of the Undying and is led by the Undying Ones of Qarth. Like the Alchemist's Guild, the prominence of the Warlocks has declined in recent years. The House of the Undying is nicknamed the "Palace of Dust." Even with their lowered reputation, the Warlocks are still feared throughout Essos and still hold a permanent seat among the Thirteen, the ruling council of Qarth. As mentioned previously, the Warlocks notice a strengthening of their magic at the arrival of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons.

Warlocks dress in long dark robes and are characterized by their pale skin and blue lips which is caused by drinking "Shade of the Evening." The Shade of the Evening is a potion made from the leaves that grow on the trees around the House of the Undying.


The House of the Undying is described as a "long and low, without towers or windows, and is coiled through a grove of black-barked trees with inky blue leaves which are used to make Shade of the Evening." If one wishes to speak with the Undying Ones, one must first navigate through the House of the Undying. Before entering, one must drink a dose of the Shade of the Evening which "tastes like all the tastes a person has ever tasted, and some that a person hasn't." Once inside, one must always take the first door on the right and only use stairs that go up. To leave the House, one must use the same rules. While roaming through the House of the Undying, visions and sights will appear before them. Some of these visions may be from the past, from the future, from the present, and from a time that will never be.


The chamber of the Undying Ones holds a long stone table around which are the Undying Ones. The Undying One's are incredibly aged people (both male and female) with skin and eyes that are violet-blue, and nails that are so blue that they appear to be black. They stare unseeing and appear not to breathe or move. Above the table is a massive swollen heart, blue with corruption. The heart beats slowly and emits an indigo light. The Undying Ones speak in a low whisper. The Undying Ones use phantoms to show past, present, and future, but it also serves as a distraction as the Undying Ones try to draw life from those who come into their chamber.



The Order of Maesters

The Order of Maesters, or simply Maesters, is an ancient and secular order of scholars, healers, messengers, and scientists. The Maesters supplanted the Alchemist's Guild as the most prominent over the centuries as they were largely seen as more useful to the nobility and royalty as they focused more on scientific knowledge and have a negative opinion of magic and the "higher mysteries." Marwyn, Archmaester of the Higher Mysteries, believes that the order was behind the deaths of the last Targaryen dragons because of this stance. They are sometimes called "the knights of the mind." They are headquartered in the Citadel in Oldtown, a city in the Reach and one of the largest in all of Westeros. The entrance to the Citadel is flanked by two green marble sphinxes. The sphinxes' bodies are lions, they have eagle's wings, and serpents for tails. One sphinx's face is a man and the other is a woman's.

The Order of Maesters is open only to men. When one first enters the citadel as a student, he is referred to as a Novice. Once they have earned one link, they are referred to as Acolytes. It can take a year to earn each link. It is considered exceptional to earn three links in one year. When an Acolyte is ready, he will set aside his House name (if he had one), and take vows to serve the realm. The night before the vows, he is placed in a dark room with a "glass candle"; if he cannot ignite it he must sit in darkness all night.


Maesters are scholars and healers who have completed their training at the Citadel. Maesters are dispersed throughout the kingdom to serve the Lords and Ladies of Westeros who own a castle; a lord without a castle is seen as unimportant. While a Maester serves the realm, he is expected to advise the lord they serve, even in matters of warfare. If that lord is defeated and possession of the castle changes hands, the Maester is expected to serve that new lord. The Citadel is paid by the Lords in return for a Maester's services. A Maester also serves as a postmaster and use ravens to carry messages between castles. Maesters wear grey robes which have sleeves sewn with several pockets. Maesters are marked by their collar which is chain link of various metals and the collar is never removed, not even in sleep. The collar is meant to remind him that he serves the realm. Each metal of the chain indicates a particular subject he has mastered. Earning links is called "forging their chain." There are 15 metals that can be earned for their collar:

Black iron = Ravenry
Brass = Unknown
Bronze = Astronomy
Copper History
Electrum ("green gold") Astrology
Yellow gold = Math and Economics
Iron = Warcraft
Lead = Smithing
Pewter = Unknown
Platinum = Unknown
Red gold = Unknown
Silver = Medicine, Healing, and Biology
Steel Construction
Tin Unknown
Valyrian steel = Higher Mysteries
Archmaesters are those Maesters who have demonstrated that they are the subject matter expert in a particular subject. As a mark of distinction, they a mask, ring, and rod in the metal corresponding to the link of the maester's chain in which they are an expert in. The Archmaester teaches novices and acolytes on their particular subject and judges whether or not a novice or an acolyte has shown enough knowledge on their subject to receive a link for their chain.

The governance of the Citadel is given to an Archmaester who bears the title of "Seneschal." The Archmaesters see this office as a "thankless task" that takes away from their true work and so a new Seneschal is appointed annually by lot (in this case, drawing a black stone selects the Seneschal).


The position of Grand Maester was created during the reign of Aegon I Targaryen who had asked the Citadel for an Archmaester to advise him on governing his newly conquered kingdom. By his position, the Grand Maester sits on the King's Small Council and is the representative of the Citadel to the royal court. The Grand Maester is elected or unmade by a Conclave which is a council composed of Archmaesters. The Conclave also determines the changing of seasons which is irregular. The Grand Maester wears a dozen heavy chains wound together in a heavy necklace and is adorned with gems.


The legend and origins of the Maesters and the Citadel are said to have been started long before Aegon's Conquest when the Hightowers were kings in their land. Prince Peremore the Twisted, the second son of King Uthor of the High Tower, invited numerous scholars, including wise men, teachers, priests, healers, singers, wizards, alchemists, and sorcerers to Oldtown. After Peremore's death, his brother, King Urrigon, granted land alongside the Honeywine to develop into the Citadel. 



Knighthoods

There are several knighthoods within Freemasonry such as Knights of the York Cross of Honor, Red Cross of Constantine, Knight Masons, York Rite College, Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests, Knights Preceptor, Order Of St Thomas of Acon, Royal Order of Scotland, and the Rectified Scottish Rite.

The Faith Militant

The predominant religion of Westeros was known as the Faith of the Seven or, simply, The Faith. The Faith came to Westeros from Essos when the Andals crossed the Narrow Sea

Members of the Faith worship the "Seven Who Are One" which is a single deity with seven aspects or avatars (personifications). The Seven are: 
The Father who is depicted as a bearded man and who sits as Judge of all.
The Mother who is depicted as a loving and protective mother-figure. 
The Warrior is depicted with a sword and worshippers seek him for courage and protection from their enemies. 
The Smith is depicted with a hammer and is not only sought for by blacksmiths, but those seeking to mend or fix broken things. 
The Maiden or Maid is depicted as a beautiful, innocent-looking young woman and is sought for the protection of the innocent, particularly maidens. 
The Crone is depicted as an old, wise woman who carries a lamp raised in one hand and is prayed to for wisdom and guidance. 
The Stranger is depicted as an androgynous being, neither male nor female, yet both at the same time. He is the personification of Death.

Up to the time of Jaehaerys I, there existed the "Faith Militant" which was composed of the Poor Fellows and the Warrior's Sons. These could be akin to the chivalric orders that arose during the crusades such as the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, and the Teutonic Knights.


The Poor Fellows, also known as the Stars (due to their logo), were a knighthood that served as the pleasure of the High Septon, leader of the Faith, and whose primary purpose was to protect and defend warfarers and pilgrims traveling on the road. The Poor Fellows chose their logo as a memorial to the Andal invasion of Westeros, when zealous warriors carved the seven-pointed star into their chests.

The Poor Fellows were considered less trained, disciplined, or well-armed than the Warrior's Sons, but composed the bulk Faith Militant. They had more members than the Warrior's Sons due to the fact that Poor Fellows accepted anyone from all ranks of society regardless of birth (lowborn, highborn, bastard, commoner) or gender. The Stars were primarily infantryman and were armed with whatever weapon they could make or find.


The Faith Militant clashed with the Targaryen monarchs who married their own kin and were seen as abominations by the Faith. Both orders were suppressed by Maegor the Cruel who outlawed them and fought battles against. With the help of Septon Barth, Jaehaerys negotiated a peace accord with the High Septon which disbanded both orders of the Faith Militant.


With the chaos and upheaval surrounding the War of the Five Kings, the Poor Fellows re-emerged. After a new High Septon, referred to as the High Sparrow, took office, he brokered a deal with Queen Cersei to restore the Faith Militant. Many of the new Poor Fellows referred to themselves as "sparrows." They would go on to protect the Great Sept of Baelor. Both orders of the Faith Militant escorted Queen Cersei back to the Red Keep during her walk of atonement after her imprisonment in the Great Sept.


The second order of the Faith Militant was the Noble and Puissant Order of the Warrior's Sons, or, simply, Warrior's Sons, which also was referred to as the "Swords." Like the Poor Fellows, they too only answered to the High Septon.

To be a Warrior's Son, one must be an anointed knight. Most were household knights or hedge knights, and a few were of noble birth. Upon joining, Swords take vows that give up any lands or gold that they possess. The original Warrior's Sons wore rainbow cloaks and silver armor over hair shirts, and their swords had star-shaped crystals on the pommel. The Warrior's Sons had chapters all over Westeros in the major cities such as Oldtown, Gulltown, and King's Landing. The entire order was led by an officer titled "Grand Captain."


As mentioned with the Poor Fellows, the Warrior's Sons were combative with the Targaryens. The Warrior's Sons took over King's Landing during the reign of Aenys I. Once Maegor took over, he defeated the Swords in combat and then burned down the Sept of Remembrance and all of the Swords that were inside. The Sept of Remembrance was replaced by the Dragon Pit by Maegor. After defeating an alliance of the Faith Militant and Riverland lords at Stoney Sept and then the Blackwater, Maegor threatened to burn down Oldtown and the Starry Sept (the then headquarters of the Faith). Upon arrival, Maegor found the gates to the city open and the High Septon dead. The Warrior's Sons had been arrested and were delivered to Maegor by Lord Martyn Hightower. The captives were given the choice: die or take the black (join the Night's Watch). Three-quarters of the knights took the black while rest, but one died. The one who was pardoned was Ser Morgan Hightower, brother of Lord Hightower and who was rumored to have killed the High Septon to earn the trust of Maegor. The captive Warrior's Sons were given a choice by Maegor: renounce the order and be permitted to join the Night's Watch or die as martyrs of the Faith. Three-quarters of the captive chose the Wall, while the remainder died. As mentioned above, the entire Faith Militant was disbanded after the new High Septon and King Jaehaerys I brokered a deal for peace.


The modern Warrior's Sons that re-emerged with the reign of the High Sparrow wear swordbelts and cloaks striped in the seven colors of the Faith. Their armor was like that of the old Swords, but now they also carry a kite shield displaying a rainbow sword shining brightly upon a field of darkness. The constant uncertainty caused a resurgence of zealotry and fanaticism, which is seen when over a 100-knights joined the Warrior's Sons once the High Septon got approval from King Tommen I and his mother Queen Cersei.


The Kingsguard

The Kingsguard, also known as the White Swords or White Cloaks, serve as the bodyguards of the Iron Throne: the king and his royal family. When the reigning monarch is a queen, this order is referred to as a Queensguard. There have only been two instances of a Queensguard. Once under Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons (a civil war in Westeros) and Daenerys Targaryen after the death of her first husband, Khal Drogo. The order was established by Queen Visenya, sister and wife to Aegon the Conquerer, after a Dornish assassination attempt on Aegon and herself in the streets of King's Landing.

The order is composed of seven knights and who are led by an officer titled as "Lord Commander." The Lord Commander is chosen by the King and usually from the existing members of the Kingsguard. The Lord Commander also serves on the King's small council. The knights are kept within the Red Keep in the White Sword Tower; the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard has a room to himself at the top of the tower. In addition to protecting the king, they keep the king's secrets, give him counsel when asked, to keep silent, and to defend his honor. Due to their small numbers, the Kingsguard also utilizes household guards and the City Watch to protect the king and royal family.

All knights in Westeros take vows, and the Kingsguard take additional vows to include serving for life, giving up all lands, and having no wife or children. Knights of the Kingsguard were allowed to keep some titles such as Hand of the King or Prince (Targaryens or Dornish).

The most notable feature of the Kingsguard is that they all wear white cloaks over suits of white enameled armor. They are the only ones within Westeros who are allowed an all-white, unadorned shield.

The complete history of the Kingsguard is kept in the White Book, also known as the "The Book of the Brothers." The Lord Commander is charged with keeping the book up-to-date, but he is allowed to use Septons to adorn the book with heraldry.

The Rainbow Guard

Another version of the Kingsguard existed during the War of the Five Kings when Renly Baratheon created a Rainbow Guard to serve as his bodyguards. These knights wore a rainbow-striped silk cloak, but were allowed to use their own sigils on their shields and garb.

The seven colors of the rainbow were meant to be emblematic of the Faith of the Seven. Each member of the Rainbow Guard wears the armor of a single different color, with the group of seven together representing the seven-colored rainbow. The Rainbow Guard did not take as restrictive of vows as the Kingsguard did as they were allowed to hold hereditary lands. The Rainbow Guard was disbanded upon the death of Renly Baratheon and the Tyrell family declaring loyalty to the Iron Throne.

The Brotherhood of Winged Knights

The Brotherhood of Winged Knights is a chivalric order founded by House Arryn in 300 AC (In the fourth book called A Feast for Crows). The Lord of the Vale, Robert Arryn was a sickly child who was coddled by his paranoid mother. After her death, he was watched by Alayne Stone (Sansa Stark pretending to be the bastard daughter of Lord Littlefinger) and who would comfort him by telling him stories of the legendary hero of the Vale, Artys I Arryn, who was known as the Winged Knight or Falcon Knight.

The idea for the order is first suggested by Alayne Stone, after she notices that young Lord Robert Arryn is always comforted when she reads him tales of his legendary ancestor, Ser Artys Arryn, the Winged Knight. who was also called the Falcon Knight. He was an Andal who conquered and united the Vale under his governance, and founded House Arryn.

Alayne comes up with an idea to form a bodyguard for the young Lord. It was originally going to be composed of seven knights, but, in a childish fit, he wanted to have more bodyguards than the king so it was increased to eight. The knights were to be selected from a tournament held at the Gates of the Moon. The Vale of Arryn had been kept out of the War of the Five Kings and the knights were eager to compete and show their martial prowess so knights from across the Vale signed up.

The Order of the Green Hand

The Order of the Green Hand was a knightly order founded by House Gardener. House Gardener were kings of the Reach before Aegon's Conquest which resulted in the death of King Mern IX during the Field of Fire. The sigil of House Gardener was a green hand. House Gardener traces itself back to Garth Greenhand who existed during the Age of Heroes. Garth Greenhand, sometimes called Garth Greenhair or Garth the Green, supposedly wore a crown of vines and flowers, and had the power to cause the land to bloom and be bountiful. He had many sons, the first being Garth the Gardener who founded House Gardener and built Highgarden, the former seat of House Gardener and current seat of House Tyrell. He had other sons and many of the noble families within the Reach trace their family back to Garth Greenhand such as the Oakhearts, Redwynes, Fossoways, Hightowers, Florents, and Tarlys. The Kings of House Gardener wore crowns of vines and flowers when at peace, and crowns of bronze thorns (later iron) when they rode to war.

The Order of the Green Hand was created to acknowledge those knights who were both virtuous and skilled in the knightly arts. While the Gardeners were the only ones who bestowed this honor, the Lord of House Manderly still claims membership in the order. House Manderly started off in the Reach, but were exiled by the Gardener Kings and relocated to the North thus becoming vassals to House Stark.

References

1. A Wiki of Ice and Fire. (n.d.). Retrieved from Westeros: The 'A Song Of Ice and Fire' domain: https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Main_Page 

2. Game of Thrones Wiki. (n.d.). Retrieved from FANDOM: https://gameofthrones.fandom.com 

3. Martin, G. R. (1996). A Song of Ice and Fire. 

4. Martin, G. R., Garcia, E., & Antonsson, L. (2014). A World of Ice and Fire.

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