It was a larger task than I anticipated trying to weave all I wanted to cover into something cohesive. I hope you all enjoy. Now let’s send the Lannisters our regards! As per usual this is a spoiler-free brief history of the Lannisters!
Chapter 1: The Beginning of the Lannisters
The Lannisters are said to have descended from the legendary trickster Lann the Clever. Singers and storytellers boast of how he swindled Casterly Rock from the Casterlys using only his wits and that he stole gold from the sun to brighten his hair. It is said that Casterly Rock kept its name to remind others of his prowess.
The Lannisters are the richest family in the Seven Kingdoms due to the fact that their lands have tons of gold mines. The castle itself is carved out of a stone hill, tunneled through with halls and chambers and walls built up to further increase defense. Casterly Rock is said to be second in size only to Harrenhal.
The Lannister coat of arms is a golden lion on a field of crimson and their official motto is “Hear me roar!” though they have an unofficial motto that is just as widely known, “A Lannister always pays his debts.”
Most of the great houses of Westeros pass down ancestral swords made of Valyrian steel from generation to generation. The Lannister sword has actually been missing since before the War of Conquest. King Tommen II Lannister went on an expedition to Valyria to see what had become of the city and never returned. Brightroar, their house sword, was lost with him.
Chapter 2: The Field of Fire
The last King of the Rock was Loren Lannister who reigned until he submitted to Aegon the Conquerer. The battle that caused Loren to surrender is now known as the Field of Fire. Loren had joined forces with King Mern of the Reach in hopes of pushing Aegon back. Together their army had 55,000 men including 5,000 cavalry while Aegon only had a fifth that.
Loren and Mern’s army charged and began to break the Targaryen lines but Aegon and his two sisters mounted all three of their dragons, Vhagar, Meraxes, and Balerion and took to the skies.
4,000 of Loren and Mern’s men died, including Mern, while 10,000 more suffered burns. The Targaryens losses amounted to less than 100. It was the only time in the War of Conquest that all three dragons were on the battlefield at the same time. King Loren surrendered his crown and the Lannisters became Wardens of the West.
Chapter 3: The Rise of Tywin
Jump forward to more recent past and you find young Tywin Lannister. His father, Lord Tytos, was known for being kind but weak. He would always lend money to lords and never got repaid, his vassals constantly ignored his orders, and people would openly mock and laugh at him at court.
The one time he showed a bit of backbone he imprisoned Lord Tarbeck for disloyalty but Lady Tarbeck captured 3 Lannisters in response. Tywin told his father he should return Lord Tarbeck in 3 pieces, one for each Lannister, but Lord Tytos simply rolled over and sent Lord Tarbeck back unharmed.
A few years later the Tarbecks rebelled again along with House Reyne, but this time Tywin handled the situation rather than his father. Tywin marched out and crushed the rebellion so completely that he entirely wiped out both houses’ family lines. This event was the birth of the song “The Rains of Castamere.”
The total destruction Tywin brought down on house Reyne was enough so that some years later when House Farman grew defiant, Tywin simply sent a messenger to play “The Rains of Castamere.” Just hearing the song caused Lord Farman to quickly step back in line.
The lyrics heavily reference the fact that the sigil of House Reyne was also a lion, but a red one instead of the golden lion like the Lannisters. By the end of the rebellion, Castamere had been put to the torch and all members of House Reyne executed. The title is thus a play on, as the “rains” fall over the empty halls of the “Reynes” who have been killed to the last man, and “not a soul to hear”.
And who are you, the proud lord said,
that I must bow so low?
Only a cat of a different coat,
that’s all the truth I know.
In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
a lion still has claws,
And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
as long and sharp as yours.
And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
that lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o’er his hall,
with no one there to hear.
Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall,
and not a soul to hear.
Tytos continued to disgrace the Lannister name by almost putting the Lannisters in debt and even openly taking on a commoner mistress who bossed him and everyone else around. Tytos finally died of a heart attack while climbing a flight of steps to visit his mistress and Tywin became Lord of Casterly Rock.
Tywin was thoroughly embarrassed by his father and how much he had tarnished the family name, so much so in fact that Tywin hated and distrusted laughter because he associated it with people laughing at his father.
Tywin ruled as Warden of the West exceptionally well, restoring their wealth and regaining respect from other houses that his father had lost. He married his cousin, Joanna Lannister, and would go on to have 3 children, the twins Cersei and Jaime, and Tyrion. Unfortunately Joanna would die while giving birth to Tyrion. Cersei and Jaime were 9 when Tyrion was born. Tywin’s brother and the childrens’ uncle, Gerion, said that the best part of Tywin died when she died. He took no further wife after Joanna.
Tywin’s abilities and accomplishments caught the attention of King Aerys II, who had not yet gone mad. Aerys appointed him to be Hand of the King at only age 20. Tywin proved to be a fantastic administrator and held the post for 20 years of peace and plenty.
Some jested that it was Tywin and not the king who really ruled. Aerys became increasingly paranoid and jealous over Tywin and began to often have bitter arguments. Aerys even lusted after Tywin’s wife while she was still alive which only caused more friction between them.
Chapter 4: The Lannister Cubs
Cersei is technically the oldest of Tywin’s 3 children, being the first of the twins to be born. Cersei and Jaime experimented sexually with one another during childhood and at one point got caught by a servant. Their mother quickly moved their rooms to opposite sides of the castle in an attempt to prevent it from happening further.
At age 12 Tywin took her to King’s Landing in hopes of working out a marriage between her and Prince Rhaegar. Cersei was extremely happy when her father promised her this and soon became infatuated with the prince when she met him at a tournament.
A very notable event of Cersei’s early years was when she was told a prophecy from a woman rumored to have magical powers known as Maggy the Frog. Cersei and her friends found her and asked for their futures to be told. Maggy refused to tell Cersei her future until she threatened the woman. Maggy told Cersei that she would become queen but would outlive all her children, who would die as kings and queens, and that after everything she had was taken away by a younger and more beautiful queen, the valonqar (High Valyrian for “little brother”) would kill her. This prophecy haunts Cersei even to this day.
At age 11 Jaime went to Crakehall to become a squire for Lord Crakehall. Two years later he won his first tourney while still a squire. Jaime became a knight at 15 when he saved Lord Crakehall’s life in battle and fended off a fierce outlaw known as the Smiling Knight. Ser Arthur Dayne himself knighted Jaime. After being knighted Jaime decided to stop by King’s Landing to visit his sister, whom he hadn’t seen in years.
When he arrived Cersei, who still believed she was to marry Rhaegar, told him that their father planned to wed Jaime to Lysa Tully. Not wanting this to happen Cersei seduced her brother and they had sex for the first time. She then suggests to Jaime that he join the Kingsguard, which would free him of having to marry Lysa and allow him to stay at the castle with her.
Tywin would of course have opposed to this idea because it would require Jaime to forfeit his right to become Lord of Casterly Rock but Cersei was sure to make all the necessary arrangements herself.
Amidst all of this happening Tywin and Aerys were still at odds. King Aerys rejected Tywin’s offer of marrying Cersei to Rhaegar and to add further insult appointed Jaime as a Kingsguard, knowing that it would cause Tywin to be robbed of his heir. This also completely foiled Cersei’s plans of being Rhaegar’s queen and having Jaime there with her. Lord Tywin was furious at the turn of events and used pretext to resign from Hand of the King and took Cersei with him back to Casterly Rock, leaving Jaime at court to now guard the king.
Tyrion grew up mostly excluded from his family. Tywin hated him over the death of Joanna and his deformity and Cersei hated him because she believed he was the little brother Maggy warned her about. Jaime was the only one who offered kindness.
When he was 13 both himself and Jaime rescued a girl named Tysha from bandits. Tyrion was amazed that Tysha liked him and after making love to her he became enamored with her and married her in secret. The happiness only lasted two weeks though before Tywin found out and put an end to it.
After his brother’s proposed marriage to Lysa Tully fell through due to him being appointed as Kingsguard, Tywin tried offering Tyrion as replacement but Hoster Tully rejected it stating that Lysa required a “whole man.”
At 16 Tyrion asked to tour the 9 Free Cities as his uncles had done but Tywin instead put him in charge of Casterly Rock’s cisterns. Even though disappointed, Tyrion took his job seriously and Casterly Rock ended up having a phenomenal system through him.
Chapter 5: Robert’s Rebellion
Tywin Lannister stayed out of the majority of the Rebellion, though he received requests from both sides to come join them. It wasn’t until Robert defeated Rhaegar at the Trident that he made a move. With Rhaegar defeated the odds were drastically in Robert’s favor. Tywin marched his troops to King’s Landing in order to aid in the rebellion and secure themselves on the winning side.
When his troops arrived the Mad King thought it was to protect him, thinking having Jaime Lannister as one of his Kingsguard that Tywin would remain loyal but once Lannister troops entered the city they sacked it.
It was at this time that Jaime earned his nickname Kingslayer. Jaime had been witness to many atrocities by the Mad King and had always been forced to turn a blind eye, other Kingsguard reminding him that he swore an oath to protect the king no matter what. When Aerys saw the city being lost to him he ordered his pyromancers to burn the entire city down with wildfire. This was the breaking point for Jaime and he killed the Aerys himself.
Tywin was responsible for Rhaegar’s wife Elia and her two childrens’ deaths. The bodies were wrapped in crimson Lannister cloaks to better conceal the blood and presented them to Robert Baratheon as a token of fealty. This act secured the marriage of the new King Robert Baratheon to his daughter Cersei.
Due to King Robert’s poor management of the realm as well as the connection through Cersei, Tywin frequently lent money to the crown, placing the court in debt to House Lannister.
UP NEXT: House Baratheon
I debated for a long while on which house would be best suited to go next and ended up landing on Baratheon!