With season 6 of Game of Thrones coming to a close, we thought we would take a look at some of the Great Houses of Westeros and see if we could figure out what makes them who they are, and has led them to their current position in the battle for the Iron Throne.
The Lannisters are one of the oldest and most affluent houses in the Seven Kingdoms. You have to go all the way back to the Age of Heroes in Westeros to see how the family became the mighty dynasty they are today. Whether you love to hate them, or hate to love them, there’s no denying that they make life interesting for those around them.
Here’s Screen Rant’s 15 Things You Need To Know About House Lannister:
15. It’s One Of The Oldest Houses In Westeros
There’s no doubt that the Lannisters are cunning and ambitious. The current generation has proven that. It has taken a great deal of planning and subterfuge on their collective parts to hold on to their tenuous grasp on the Iron Throne. But they seem to come by it honestly.
There are many myths and legends about how the family came to rule Casterly Rock, but one thing remains the same throughout; Lann The Clever. While his race is disputed by many (some claim that he is one of the First Men, others claim that he is an Andal from across the Narrow Sea), there is no doubt that he is the fore-father of the mighty Lannister dynasty. Whether he truly snuck into the keep at Casterly Rock and drove them all mad by thinking the place was haunted, or he impregnated all of the Casterly young women while they slept, the fact remains that he did what he needed to do to make his place in the world. After his infiltration, the Casterly family died out and the Lannisters were born.
14. Their Sigil and House Words Are Distinctive
While everyone is well aware of the saying “a Lannister always pays his debts,” it’s not the official motto of House Lannister. That title belongs to the phrase “Hear Me Roar,” which makes sense once you realize that their official sigil is a golden lion on a crimson background.
Although it’s a minor thing, this is one of the areas where the books and the television show differ. In the books, the lion of Lannister is rampant on a field of crimson, whereas in the books, the lion is shown as striding, having all four of its feet on the ground. The book version of the sigil has made a couple of appearances in the TV show, but it’s not the one that is used by the network for promotional purposes. Another interesting tidbit is that the official sigil of House Reyne of Castamere was also a rampant lion, although theirs was on a field of silver. There are images of the red lion confronting the larger, golden lion, to commemorate the destruction of the House Reyne. (More on that in a bit!)
13. Their Home Is Casterly Rock
Casterly Rock is on the western coast of Westeros, overlooking the Sunset Sea and the city of Lannisport. It is the capital city of the Westerlands. There are a number of nearby strongholds, including Feastfires and Kayce to the west, Clegan’s Keep to the south and Sarsfield to the north. The castle itself is carved out of a large stone hill. Many believe that it looks like a lion in repose when the sun sets. While the castle has plenty of natural defences, over the years there have been many fortifications, including watchtowers, gates and walls. The rock has been measured and is three times taller than both The Wall and the Hightower in Oldtown.
The rock itself, below the castle, is one of the largest gold mines in all of the Seven Kingdoms. Because of this, and the surrounding gold and silver mines in the westerlands, the Lannisters are the wealthiest house in Westeros. And they have no issue using their wealth to make sure that everything goes their way. They also have a tendency to help other Houses fund their endeavours, including the ruling House, as a way to keep everyone beholden to them.
12. They Are A True Andal House
The Lannisters are usually tall and handsome, with fair hair and emerald green eyes. This is due to their Andal heritage. Although technically the family began as First Men (as this was what Lann the Clever was), they became mostly Andal when the invaders came across the Narrow Sea and conquered most of the continent.
While the Lannisters initially tried to fight off the invaders, they soon realized this was a mistake and they weren’t going to win. Instead, they chose to arrange marriages between the Andals and the lesser houses as well as taking Andal children in as wards as a form of security. Eventually, the royal family began marrying its children to the Andals, securing a new bloodline. When King Gerold III passed away without an heir, his son-in-law, Ser Joffrey Lydden was appointed the crown by a council. Joffery took the Lannister name, and ruled as the new king. This technically made the House Lannister an Andal house, although they did keep their First Men name.
11. Their Greatsword Brightroar Is Lost
At one time in their history, the Lannisters possessed a great sword made of Valyrian steel, named Brightroar. It was passed down from generation to generation, at least until King of the Rock, Tommen II got his hands on it.
After the Doom Of Valyria, the cataclysmic event that caused the fall of the great city, Tommen decided that there were riches and sorcery to be had in the ruins, so he set sail for the famed city, taking the family heirloom with him, and was never seen again. Over the years, the Lannisters have tried to replace the sword, even offering to buy the swords of lesser and poorer houses. No one ever took them up on the offer and they are still in search of a replacement. On an interesting note, instead of taking the great sword Ice as a replacement, once Ned Stark was executed for treason, Tywin instead had the sword melted down and re-forged into two new weapons, Widow’s Wail and Oathkeeper, which he gifted to Joffery and Jaime respectively.
10. They Reigned As Kings Of The Rock
The family reigned as Kings of the Rock for many ages, that is until the Targaryen Conquest swept across the Seven Kingdoms. Although Loren Lannister, the last official King of the Rock, and Mern Gardener, the last King of the Reach, joined their forces and managed to gather 60,000 men, Aegon the Conqueror eventually unleashed his dragons on them and there were defeated.
But all was not lost after the War of Conquest, as King Loren the Last did bend the knee and swore fealty to the new king. This led to Aegon allowing him to remain Lord of Casterly Rock. At the same time, he also made the Lannister family the Wardens of the West. Added to their title as Lords Paramount of the Westerlands, and they remained exceptionally powerful under the new regime, remaining loyal to the royal house. As the years went by, and especially under the reign of Tywin’s father, Tytos, they lost a bit of that luster, looked upon as weak as their leader. It wasn’t until Tywin took control that they became the fierce, unrelenting family that we all know and love. Of course, under Tywin’s rule, they also totally betrayed the Targaryens, so there’s that.
9. They Hold The Second Largest Military In Westeros
One of the things that the Lannisters made sure to do with their money was to spend a great deal of it on their armed forces. Due to the family wealth, they control the second largest military in the Seven Kingdoms, the size of their army only being surpassed by that of The Reach.
It is estimated that the Westerlands can summon an army upwards of fifty thousand soldiers (compared to the eighty to one hundred thousand that the Reach is estimated to be able to raise), not including the fleet that they hold at Lannisport. While the fleet isn’t exceptionally large, it still contains upwards of thirty cogs, drumonds, carracks and galleys, not including the two to three ships the lesser lords keep there for patrolling. While the men of the Westerlands and the Reach combined forces to attempt to defeat Aegon Targaryen during the War of Conquest, it will most likely be a cold day in hell when that happens again, given the current veiled animosity between the two Great Houses.
8. There Are 10 Vassal Houses Sworn To Them
Although it’s wise to stay on the good side of the Lannisters, because they always pay their debts, they’re not the only house that you need to worry about. Much like a historical feudal society, the main and oldest houses in Westeros have vassal houses that have sworn fealty to the Great Houses.
In the show, House Lannister has ten vassal houses sworn to them. They are House Clegan, House Crakehall, House Lefford, House Lannister of Lannisport, House Lorch, House Marbrand, House Payne, House Serrett, House Swyft and House Westerling. While the House Lannister is considered one of the most prominent and powerful (although recently things haven’t gone their way and they are scattered), they still have a pretty solid group backing them. While not the strongest group out there, (these days that would most likely go to House Tyrell) they are not down and out yet and still have a player in this game, even if he is in a rather precarious position. And if there’s one thing to know about House Lannister, it’s to never count them out when the chips are down. All they need is to regroup and they’ll be ready to come out fighting once again.
7. They Played A Huge Role In The Targaryen Downfall
The Lannister’s allegiance is to no one else other than themselves. They have proven time and time again that they can’t be trusted, often switching sides in the blink of an eye. Anything to get them on the ‘right’ side of the conflict; the side that will be the most fortuitous for them and the family.
This was the most evident during Robert’s Rebellion. While Aerys fought Robert’s rebel forces, the army of Casterly Rock held back, remaining neutral through most of the war. When the tides turned at the Battle of the Trident, and Robert slew Rhaegar, Tywin finally marched his army to King’s Landing. Convinced by Pycelle that the Lannisters were coming to his aid, the Mad King opened the gates and let them into the city. Once inside, the Lannister forces perpetrated The Sack On King’s Landing, decimating Aerys’ forces from within. Jamie killed the king, garnering himself the title of Kingslayer, while Gregor Clegan and Amory Loarch slaughtered Rhaegar’s family. As a show of Lannister fealty, they presented the dead to the newly crowned Robert, who excused their crimes and took Cersei as his bride. Proof that you should never turn your back on a Lannister, lest you find a knife in it.
6. The History Of The Rains Of Castamere Is Haunting
Remember when we said that you can’t trust a Lannister and they’re all about self-preservation and doing what’s best for them? There’s a reason that they have that kind of reputation. Ultimately, they’re not nice people, and even have a song about just how un-nice they are.
The Rains Of Castamere was written to immortalize the defeat, and utter destruction of the House Reyne, when they dared oppose House Lannister. Like Casterly Rock, the castle at Castamere was built on top of ore mines. When the ore dried up, the Reyne’s began to build and expand the castle below ground, creating a subterranean paradise. It was this feature that a teenage Tywin Lannister exploited, when he wiped out the entire Reyne line in one fell swoop. Tywin had the Lannister men block the underground entrances with stone, and then rerouted the water supply to the mines, flooding them and drowning what was left of the entire Reyne dynasty. Then, to add insult to injury, he had the castle and buildings on the surface burned to the ground. This is why you should always stay on the Lannister’s good side.
5. Cersei And Jamie Were Highly Sought After
Being the wealthiest family in the Kingdom, coupled with the fact that their father was the hand of the king at the time, made Cersei and Jamie pretty interesting to other houses. When the children were younger, a Princess of Dorne visited Casterly Rock with Elia and Oberyn, hoping to make a betrothal deal. Tywin refused, mainly because he was hoping to have Cersei married off to Prince Rhaegar, so she could become queen and the new ruling line of Westros would have both Targaryen and Lannister blood.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work out how the leader of House Lannister planned, as King Aerys refused the match. Tywin still held out hope, however, and refused all other marriage proposals that Cersei received. By now, he hoped to either marry her off to Viserys, or that Rhaegar’s new bride, who just happened to be Elia Martell, would die in childbirth and Cersei would be a suitable replacement. As for Jamie, he was about to be betrothed to Lysa Tully when he was appointed to the Kingsguard. Cersei convinced him to accept so that he would be stationed in Kings Landing and closer to her. Guess the twins preferred each other’s company too much.
4. Cersei’s Downfall Was Prophesied A Long Time Ago
When Cersei was a little girl, she was told that she was going to be betrothed to Prince Rhaegar and quickly became infatuated with the handsome prince. As a bit of a lark, she convinced a couple of her friends to visit Maggy the Frog with her, a fortune teller from Lannisport. When Maggy refused to tell the girls fortune, Cersei being Cersei threw her haughty weight around and demanded a reading. Too bad it wasn’t good news.
Maggy foretold of a future where Cersei would marry a king and that she would have three children. She would then bury those children and be usurped by a younger, more attractive queen. Finally, she would be killed by the valonqar, which in High Valyrian means little brother. These prophecies clouded her already bad relationship with Tyrion, who she is convinced is the valonqar that will end her. Since two of her children are dead already, it’s not looking good for Tommen. And while Tyrion would love nothing more than to put an end to his vicious sister, there are many that believe Jaime, who is also her younger brother even if it’s only by minutes, will be to one to kill her.
3. Tommen And Myrcella Are Dating
No, we’re not talking about on the show, although given their fictional parents’ penchant for keeping the love in the family, it wouldn’t really be a surprise. We’re talking about the actors that play these two characters, Dean-Charles Chapman and Nell Tiger Free.
The teenagers have not officially come out and admitted to being a couple, but the evidence is there if you check out their social media posts. The two seem inseparable, with Nell even flying to location with Dean after Myrcella had been killed off in the show. Yes, it was probably because she was heading out to film Myrcella’s funeral and all that, but it’s still kind of fun to speculate, especially when they make such a cute couple. Of course, they aren’t the only ones to fall for each other in the set, either. Actors Kit Harington and Rose Leslie, who play Jon Snow and Ygritte on the HBO series, are also a couple in real life.
2. There’s A Theory That Tyrion Isn’t One Of Them
George R.R. Martin has done a masterful job of dropping hints and red herrings in the novels, and the showrunners have taken up the challenge, keeping things close to the vest on the television show as well. One of the things that has truly yet to be determined is a certain character’s parentage. While the fan theory that R + L = J seems to be pretty universally accepted, there is a theory out there that Tyrion may not be who he seems, either.
The theory goes that Tyrion is not actually a Lannister, but a Targaryen. The pieces of evidence used to ‘prove’ the theory are his tumultuous relationship with Tywin, the fact that he doesn’t look like a typical Lannister and his obsessions with both dragons and fire. Depending upon how your read the subtext in the novels, you will be able to see why this theory has some legs. The fandom is pretty divided, however. About a third believe the Tyrion is a Targaryen, a third believe that it’s actually Jamie and Cersei that have Targaryen blood in them and the last third believe that they’re all Lannisters. Like most things with this series, it’s just a wait and see kind of thing.
1. Their Feud With The Starks Is Inspired By Real Life
Although the series does contain fantastical elements, such as ice zombies and fire breathing dragons, it is in fact inspired by real life events. Well, history to be exact. George R.R. Martin has stated in the past that he took inspiration from the British War of the Roses, which ran from 1455 to 1487.
But it’s more than that. Martin has actually based the main rivalry in his story, the Starks versus the Lannisters on the real battle that took place between the Yorks and the Lancasters. With just a little digging, you can see the similarities between the prominent Thrones families and their historical counterparts. From Robert Baratheon being Westeros’ embodiment of King Edward IV, to Cersei Lannister bringing a version Elizabeth Woodinville to life, once you know the details, it’s interesting to see just how closely some of the characters come to real life historical figures. Just take Joffrey Baratheon, who bears a striking resemblance, attitude-wise, to the young Edward of Lancaster. You never knew that history could be so entertaining and blood-thirsty, did you?
So, there is is, the down and dirty on House Lannister. Did we surprise you with some of these facts? Is there anything important that we missed? What do you like, or dislike, about the Lannisters? Let us know in the comments!