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Order of Maesters
[[Image:|Order of Maesters|250px]]
Season(s)
1 | 2
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Active
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Notable Members
Grand Maester Pycelle
Maester Aemon
Maester Cressen
Maester Luwin
Maester Qyburn
Former Members
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Bran and Luwin
Maester Luwin teaching Bran Stark a geography lesson.
WertheadAdded by Werthead

Maesters, formally known as the Order of Maesters, are an order of scholars, healers, and learned men in the Seven Kingdoms. Due to their scientific and intellectual pursuits, they are sometimes referred to as "the knights of the mind".

Focusing on scientific knowledge and disdaining belief in magic, in the present day the Order of Maesters has largely eclipsed the older Alchemists' Guild, which claims to possess arcane magical knowledge, but whose number, power, and abilities have waned over the centuries.

The maesters are a secular organization, not a religious order, though they do swear sacred oaths to follow the duties and restrictions of their office. Unlike certain other organizations such as the Faith of the Seven, which has male and female priests, women are not allowed to join the maesters, and its membership is all-male.

According to the TV series official pronunciation guide developed for the cast and crew, the term is pronounced "MAY-ster", not "MY-stir", which proved tricky for the cast during filming.

Function and Duties

Complete Guide to Westeros Maester Advising Lord
Maesters serve as advisors to lords in the realm.

Almost every castle and noble family in Westeros, no matter how small, has a maester on hand to teach the lord's children, give him counsel, and attend to medical and educational needs. The lords of the Seven Kingdoms are also reliant on their ability to send long distance communiques using trained messenger ravens, which they are responsible for tending in a castle's rookery. Maesters also serve as the resident medical expert at a castle, responsible for everything from setting broken bones, assisting childbirth, and knowledge of medicinal herbs and potions to aid fevers and internal illnesses. In addition, maesters also observe changes in the weather to watch for shifting of the seasons.[1]

Complete Guide to Westeros Maester Initiation
A new initiate to the Order of Maesters in the Citadel.
Maesters are expected to eschew their familial background and political allegiances. They drop their family name when they join the order. They are assigned to serve at castles and holdfasts throughout the Seven Kingdoms and are bound by their vows to serve whoever holds the castle in which they reside, regardless of change in lordship. It is not considered a breach of their vows if a maester advises the current lord of their castle in military matters to defeat their enemies, but if their lord is defeated by his enemies and possession of the castle officially changes hands, the maester is expected to serve its new lord.[1] Similar to the Night's Watch, the Order of Maesters is an egalitarian institution whose members must ignore their past family and political ties, give up their right to inheritance, and take an oath of celibacy.
Aemon-Castle-Black
Aemon, a maester serving in the Night's Watch.
LovelyChrysAdded by LovelyChrys
Thus, like the Night's Watch, younger sons or bastard sons are often made to join the maesters, so as not to interfere with the inheritance of firstborn and/or legitimate sons. Another similarity is that both the Night's Watch and the maesters are considered to be servants of the realm. It is possible to be both a maester and a member of the Night's Watch, due to the similar restrictions of their vows and because the castles along the Wall each need a maester. This has always been something of a rarity, however, as even during its prime the Night's Watch only maintained nineteen castles along the Wall, and by the time of Robert's Rebellion, the number of manned castles had dwindled over the centuries to only three. Thus in the current era there are usually only three maesters who are also members of the Night's Watch. Most prominent among these is Maester Aemon, who by the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings had served as maester of Castle Black for over seventy years. Should the need arise at the Wall, it is also permissible for a member of the Night's Watch to be trained as a maester at the Citadel, then return to the Wall to serve as the maester of one of its castles.

Organization

Complete Guide to Westeros Maesters Citadel
The entrance to the Citadel, flanked by two stone sphinxes.

The headquarters of the Order of Maesters is the Citadel, a complex devoted to higher learning, which is located in the city of Oldtown in the southwest of the Reach. New initiates are trained at the Citadel, and upon finishing their studies, gain the title of "maester" and are assigned to serve at a castle or town in Westeros. The entire order is ruled over by the Conclave, the council of archmaesters, who reside in the Citadel.

Pycelle 1x04
Grand Maester Pycelle in his study.
LordofOnionsAdded by LordofOnions

The Grand Maester is considered the most senior member of the order, and is its personal representative to the king on the Iron Throne. The Grand Maester is elected by the Conclave, but resides in the Red Keep in King's Landing, to personally advise the king and serve on the Small Council. Only the Conclave may select the Grand Maester and while the King or Hand may dismiss the Grand Maester from the council, they cannot strip him of his title.

Traditions

Complete Guide to Westeros Maester Forging Links
A maester forging the links in his chain of office.
Complete Guide to Westeros Higher Mysteries
An initiate trying (and failing) to master the "higher mysteries", represented by a link of Valyrian steel.

Maesters wear a chain around their necks composed of various substances to signify their personal expertise. Each link indicates a different field of study. There are hundreds of recognized fields each with a different representative substance. Maesters are expected to wear their chains at all times, even when sleeping.[1]

Known metals and corresponding fields of study include:

  • Silver - medicine and healing
  • Gold - money and accounting
  • Iron - warcraft
  • Black iron - ravenry
  • Valyrian steel - "the higher mysteries" (magic). Only one maester in a hundred possesses such a link, as study of the occult is frowned upon by the order.

Known members

Image gallery

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the maesters are an all-male order of scholars and teachers. Women are not permitted to join the order. They are based in Oldtown, the continent's second-largest city on its far southwestern coast, in the Reach.

Subjects which the maesters can be specialized in include: herb lore, warcraft, medicine and healing, smithing, economics, history and heraldry, astronomy, ravenry, and the "higher mysteries" (magic), although in the latter case only to ensure that it is treated like a myth. The supreme master of such an area gains the rank of Archmaester and is allowed to sit on the ruling council of the order, the Conclave, based in the Citadel.

Maesters in Westeros basically serve many of the functions that Christian monks did in real-life medieval society, being lore-masters and advisors to noble families, who are mostly responsible for promoting literature culture, and who provide many of the writing services with letters or books that real-life Christian monks or clergymen would in a medieval chancery. In the fantasy-world of Westeros, however, the "Maesters" are entirely separate from the religious clergy (such as septons of the Faith of the Seven): Maesters focus entirely on matters of learning and scientific knowledge, and religious clergymen focus on religious matters.

The exact origins of the Order of Maesters have not been revealed in the first five novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. They are known to have existed for many centuries, based in Oldtown, long before the Targaryen Conquest three hundred years ago. Oldtown itself already existed at the time of the Andal Invasion six thousand years ago (albeit it wasn't as large of a city then), and survived because it welcomed the invaders instead of trying to resist them. However, no indication has been made whether the Maesters were actually introduced to Westeros by the Andals as one of their cultural institutions (along with the Faith of the Seven), or if they predate them and are a creation of the First Men, or if the order developed many centuries after the initial Andal Invasion during the later history of Westeros. Maesters are also present in the North, where the Andals never conquered the First Men, but the Northerners may have just accepted Maesters over the centuries, much as they adopted other cultural institutions from their southern neighbors (such as the Common Tongue and its writing system).

See also

References

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