|First seen||"High Sparrow"|
|Appeared in||5 episodes (see below)|
|Allegiance||The Faith of the Seven
|Religion||Faith of the Seven|
|Portrayed by||Jonathan Pryce|
- "The notion that we're all equal in the eyes of the Seven doesn't sit well with some...I tell them no one's special, and they think I'm special for telling them so."
- ―The High Sparrow
The High Sparrow is a recurring character in the fifth and sixth seasons. He is played by guest star Jonathan Pryce and debuts in the eponymous "High Sparrow". The High Sparrow is the leader of the religious sect known as the Sparrows and the newly appointed High Septon.
His name is unknown. He was originally a humble septon who began to preach equality among all men and aid the poor while leading a humble life himself, often denouncing the excesses and sins of the nobility. As followers gathered around him, he made his way to King's Landing.
He emerged as more or less the leader of the religious protest movement known as "the Sparrows", and his critics started mockingly calling him the "High Sparrow" - in sarcastic comparison to the High Septon, the highest cleric and ordained leader of the Faith of the Seven. His followers, however, adopted the nickname in pride, and themselves started calling him "the High Sparrow" as a sign of respect. He never tried to call himself this, but the name stuck. After being made High Septon, as per tradition it became forbidden to ever refer to him by his given name again, so whatever his original name was remains unknown.
Although the High Sparrow seems a harmless old man, he has a steel personality. His pious devotion is genuine and deep-rooted, hiding no ulterior political motives. As a result he cannot be bribed or easily intimidated.
Queen Cersei Lannister discovers the High Sparrow is a humble man, serving soup and bread to the poor while barefoot. He finds the name "High Sparrow" humorous and makes no effort to hide what action the Sparrows took against the High Septon, though he admits they could have been more careful. Cersei tells him that he will not be arrested or executed, but the High Septon has been imprisoned instead, which surprises the High Sparrow.
Through Queen Cersei's influence, the High Sparrow is elected High Septon. To further gain his support, Cersei signs a decree restoring the Faith Militant, military orders under the command of the High Septon with the right to bear arms and dispense justice.
The High Sparrow later presides over the inquest into the charges of sodomy, buggery, and blasphemy against Loras Tyrell. He also questions Margaery Tyrell and Olyvar on the charges. Olyvar's testimony convinces the High Septon to bring Loras to a full trial, and also to arrest Margaery for perjury and blasphemy, as she swore before the gods that her (false) testimony was true.
Whilst scrubbing the floors of the Great Sept, the High Sparrow is approached by Olenna Tyrell. After exchanging some barbs and pleasantries the pair discuss Loras and Margaery's arrests. The Queen Of Thorns wants her grandchildren released immediately but the High Sparrow refuses arguing that the divine laws should apply to both high-and lowborn. Olenna resorts to offer bribery and when this fails she threatens to have House Tyrell cease supplying the realm with their crops. Unimpressed, the High Sparrow sarcastically questions the Tyrell matriarch if she ever performed any labor in the field. He adds that the smallfolk are many while the nobility are few and what will happen when the many stop fearing the few. He then turns around and leaves her.
Late, the High Sparrow receives Cersei, who has come to the Great Sept to see the imprisonment arrangements of Queen Margaery, at the lowest and oldest level of the Great Sept - a simple stone sept with none of the grand adormnents of the Great Sept that Baelor the Blessed built on top of it. He tells her of the limited known history of the chapel, making plain his love of the simplicity in how it represents pure faith and compares it to the gratuity of the Great Sept. He uses this comparison to show how the highborn, like the Tyrells, can be stripped back to reveal the pure truth beneath their facade and then openly wonders and asks what they will find of Cersei once they strip back her finery to reveal the truth beneath. He then tells her of a highborn young man who has already stripped himself this way and adds that he had much to say of her. Lancel Lannister then enters the chapel to stand beside the High Sparrow. They both silently watch as an exceedingly flippant Cersei is arrested by Septa Unella and brother Boake.
His High Holiness agrees to see Cersei when she finally consents to confessing her sins. He interrupts Cersei's long speech of wanting to be pious again in order to hear her actual confession. The High Sparrow is relatively pleased that the Queen admits to having committed adultery with Lancel, but states that a trial will still be held to ascertain the truth behind the other charges she still denies: regicide and incest. When Cersei invokes the Mother's mercy, the High Sparrow agrees to let her return to the Red Keep to see Tommen but only after she has atoned. Before the gates of the Great Sept the High Sparrow addresses the people of King's Landing. He explains that though their Queen has sinned greatly she now begs forgiveness and will thus perform a walk of atonement from the Sept to the Red Keep as the gods made her, meaning completely nude and with her long golden hair cut short. When the once prideful Queen walks past him, the High Sparrow grins ever so slightly.
|Season Five appearances|
|The Wars to Come||The House of Black and White||High Sparrow||Sons of the Harpy||Kill the Boy|
|Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken||The Gift||Hardhome||The Dance of Dragons||Mother’s Mercy|
- "All sinners are equal before the Gods."
- ―The High Sparrow
- High Sparrow: "The Faith calls Queen Margaery forward."
- Margaery Tyrell: "You call me forward?"
- High Sparrow: "Yes, we have some questions for you."
- Margaery Tyrell: "I am the queen."
- High Sparrow: "You are, and according to the law of the Seven, neither kings nor queens are exempt from testimony at a holy inquest."
- — The High Sparrow to Queen Margery[src]
- Olenna Tyrell: " What are you doing? Let us pass."
- High Sparrow: "The Faith is satisfied there is enough evidence to bring a formal trial for Ser Loras. And Queen Margaery."
- Olenna Tyrell: "What!?"
- High Sparrow: "Bearing false witness before the Gods is as grave a sin as any, my lady. Take her."
- — The High Sparrow arrests Ser Loras and Queen Margaery[src]
- Olenna Tyrell: "A man of the people? Is that your game? It's an old game. Dull and unconvincing. A man of the people who does Cersei's dirty work for her."
- High Sparrow: " The people always do the dirty work."
- Olenna Tyrell: "Spare me the homilies. I can smell a fraud from a mile away."
- High Sparrow: "Useful talent."
- — Olenna Tyrell spars with the High Sparrow[src]
- "I imagine this is strange for you. Everyone you meet has a hidden motive and you pride yourself on sniffing it out. But I'm telling you a simple truth. I serve the Gods. The Gods demand justice."
- ―The High Sparrow to Lady Olenna
- Olenna Tyrell: "Half the men, women, and children in this foul city break the sacred laws. You live among murderers, thieves, and rapists, and yet you punish Loras for shagging some perfumed ponce, and Margaery for defending her brother?"
- High Sparrow: "Yes. The Gods' laws must be applied to all equally."
- Olenna Tyrell: "If it's equality you want, so be it. When House Tyrell stops sending our crops to the capital, everyone here will starve. And I'll make sure the hungry know who's to blame."
- High Sparrow: "Have you ever sowed the field, Lady Olenna? Have you ever reaped the grain? Has anyone in House Tyrell? A lifetime of wealth and power has left you blind in one eye. You are the few, we are the many."
- — Olenna Tyrell and the High Sparrow continue to spar.[src]
- "Strip away the gold and the ornaments, knock down the statues and the pillars, and this what remains: something simple... solid... and true. The Tyrells' finery will be stripped away, their lies knocked down, their hearts laid bare for all to see. And so it will be for all of us. High and low alike. What will we find when we strip away your finery? A young man came to us not long ago, broken in body and spirit. He had so much to strip away, so much weighing him down. But piece by piece he unburdened himself. Let go of pride, vanity, sin. Now his soul is so light, he will float through the Seven Heavens like a bird. And he has much to say about you."
- ―The High Sparrow to Queen Cersei
- "A sinner comes before you, Cersei of House Lannister. Mother to His Grace, King Tommen, widow of His Grace, King Robert. She has committed the acts of falsehood and fornication. She has confessed her sins, and begged for forgiveness. To demonstrate her repentance, she will cast aside all pride, all artifice, and present herself as the gods made her... to you, the good people of this city. She comes before you with a solemn heart, shorn of secrets, naked before the eyes of gods and men, to make her walk of atonement."
- ―The High Sparrow to the people of King's Landing
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the so-called "High Sparrow" is a prominent member of the "sparrows", a religious movement formed during the War of the Five Kings in the wake of brutalities committed against septs as well as men and women sworn to the Faith of the Seven. The sparrows form as a popular disgust movement, outraged that the Lannisters are completely indifferent to the death and starvation that the smallkfolk are suffering due to the war Queen Cersei started. They call themselves "the sparrows" because, just as the sparrow is the humblest of birds, they are the humblest of men; this leads detractors of to mock their leader as "High Sparrow". Moon Boy, the royal jester, was the first to call him by that name as a jape, and it soon became his common nickname.
The sparrows are also angered that the leadership of the Faith of the Seven has become corrupt and easily bribed off by the Lannisters, rather than speak out against their war and the suffering it has caused. The High Septon when the war began was richly dressed and too obese to walk far, even as war refugees starved to death in the streets of King's Landing (this High Septon was later torn to pieces by a mob in food riots). The ruling council of the Faith of the Seven, known as the Most Devout, have also amassed great personal wealth in their offices - which they usually display by wearing expensive silks and jewelry. In stark contrast, the High Sparrow is a poor priest who used to travel the countryside performing his services at humble villages too small to have their own septs. Therefore, he wears only a simple roughspun tunic of white wool, as a sign of his humility and piety.
In the novels, his election is not instigated by Cersei. Instead, the sparrows break into the Great Sept of Baelor and force the Most Devout, many of which had been already publicly humiliated by the sparrows, to declare their leader as the new High Septon.
The High Sparrow preaches for modesty and abstemiousness, and sets a good example: Cersei is shocked to see him cleaning the floor, wearing roughspun robes. She is even more shocked to hear that he has sold the golden crown that Tywin gave his predecessor, the other crowns held in the vaults, as well as the rings and fancy clothes. He explains, "Poor need food in their bellies more than we need gold and crystal on our head. Wool will keep a man as warm. That is why the Seven gave us sheep." Cersei is used to living in luxury and has no regard for the poor masses, and therefore cannot comprehend his actions, instead thinking he is simply insane.