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The Night's Watch
Night's-Watch-sigil
Season(s)
1, 2, 3, 4
Appeared in
Mentioned in
Status
Active
Type
Sworn brotherhood
Military order
Allegiance
{{{Allegiance}}}
Leader
Currently vacant
Former Members
Military strength
Less than 100 men
Date of founding
8,000 years ago (according to legend)
Founder

[[:Category:{{{Images}}}|Images]]

"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."
The Night's Watch oath[src]
Jon, Sam and Pyp

Grenn, Jon Snow, Samwell Tarly and Pypar, new recruits to the Watch training at Castle Black.

The Night's Watch is a military order which holds and guards the Wall, the immense ice structure which separates the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms from the lands beyond. At the onset of the War of the Five Kings, the order is currently led by acting Lord Commander Alliser Thorne from the stronghold of Castle Black.

The Night's Watch consists of three groups: the Rangers, who fight, defend the Wall and patrol the Haunted Forest; the Builders, who maintain the Wall and the castles; and the Stewards, who support and feed the members of the Watch.

OverviewEdit

According to legend, the Night's Watch was founded 8,000 years ago.[1] They now protect the Seven Kingdoms from threats beyond their northern border, such as white walkers, wildlings and giants. They man a vast structure known as the Wall, a 700 foot tall and 300 mile long barrier which separates the Seven Kingdoms from the lands to its north. It is formed mostly from ice. The Watch have built several castles along the southern edge of the Wall to house their men. They also control a region south of the Wall known as the Gift, from which they obtain supplies and provisions. The region was donated to them by House Stark, the Kings in the North, at the time.[2][3]

Members of the Night's Watch swear an oath of duty that is binding for life and prohibits marriage, family, and land ownership. Recruits renounce all past allegiances and birthrights. Joining the Watch provides absolution for past crimes and immunity from further punishment. Brothers start with a clean slate and can rise within the ranks whatever their origins.[3] They describe one another as "sworn brothers" because of the oath. Men of the Watch dress entirely in black, giving rise to the nickname "crows" - which is what the Free Folk commonly call them - or "black brothers."[2] Members of the Night's Watch are not specifically forbidden from seeing their families, but they cannot leave the Wall without permission. Desertion is punishable by death. First Ranger Benjen Stark would often visit his family at Winterfell while representing the Night's Watch.

Castle Black

Castle Black - largest of the three occupied castles.

The Watch was once highly regarded and their ranks were filled with volunteers from noble houses, as serving was a sign of selfless devotion to the protection of the realm.[citation needed] However, most recruits are now criminals avoiding punishment, nobles avoiding scandal, orphans and other social outcasts. Men known as wandering crows, such as Yoren, travel around the Seven Kingdoms gathering recruits for the Watch, offering them escape on the Wall. For the highborn, the Wall is a convenient place to exile embarrassing or disgraced family members. Samwell Tarly was disowned by his own father and ordered to join the Watch. Tywin Lannister had plans to exile his own son Tyrion to the Wall.

By the time of the TV series, the institute has fallen into disrepute and is largely ignored by the throne. It is severely undermanned; dwindling numbers have led to all but three of the Wall's nineteen castles being abandoned. The Night's Watch is now led from its stronghold at Castle Black.[2] The Shadow Tower and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea are the only other castles that are still manned. Meanwhile, trouble is stirring beyond the Wall. A large wildling army under a new King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder, is advancing south, and there are rumors that the White Walkers, long since thought to be extinct, have returned.

At the start of the TV series, the Lord Commander of the Watch is Jeor Mormont. The Night's Watch engages in the first open conflict between men and white walkers in eight millennia, and suffers heavy casualties.[4] Mormont himself is then killed by his own men when they mutiny at Craster's Keep; Alliser Thorne succeeds him as acting Commander.[5] Their strength now reduced to about 100 men, the remainder of the Watch manage to fend off a wildling attack on Castle Black. Stannis Baratheon then unexpectedly arrives to relieve them, and defeats the wildling army.[6]

Prominent membersEdit

JeorMormont S2Promo

Jeor Mormont - the late former Lord Commander of the Nights Watch.

Marching through the snow

Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's forces marching north of the wall.

Based at Castle BlackEdit

Based at the Shadow TowerEdit

Based at EastwatchEdit

En route to the WallEdit

  • {Yoren}, a "wandering crow" in charge of finding new recruits. Killed in the Riverlands by Ser Amory Lorch.

OathEdit

When joining the Night's Watch, all members must swear the following oath, either in a sept if they are of the Faith of the Seven, or before a heart tree if they follow the Old Gods of the Forest.

Hear my words and bear witness to my vow. Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

QuotesEdit

"The Night's Watch is the only thing standing between the realm and what lies beyond and it has become an army of undisciplined boys and tired old men. There are less than a thousand of us now. We can't man the other castles on the Wall. We can't properly patrol the wilderness. We have barely enough resources to keep our lads armed and fed."
Maester Aemon to Tyrion Lannister[src]
"You came to us as outlaws, poachers, rapers, killers, thieves. You came alone, in chains, without friends or honor. You came to us rich and you came to us poor. Some of you bear the names of proud Houses, others only bastard names or no names at all. It does not matter. All that is in the past. Here on the Wall we are all one House."
Jeor Mormont to the recruits[src]
"We've been guarding the Kingdoms for eight thousand years."
Jon Snow to Ser Jaime Lannister[src]
"Here, a man gets what he earns, when he earns it."
Benjen Stark to Jon Snow[src]
"You knelt as boys; rise now, as men of the Night's Watch"
Bowen Marsh to Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow after taking their vows[src]

In the booksEdit

In A Song of Ice and Fire, the First Ranger is Benjen Stark, whilst the Lord Commander is Jeor Mormont, the father of Jorah Mormont. The Night's Watch is grievously under-strength by the beginning of the book series, having fallen from 10,000 when Aegon the Conqueror invaded to less than 1,000, divided into three garrisons at Castle Black (600 soldiers), the Shadow Tower (200 soldiers) and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea (less than 200 soldiers).

Of these 1,000 men, almost 300 are killed in the Great Ranging, due to the disastrous Battle of the Fist of the First Men and subsequent Mutiny at Craster's Keep. This further reduced the Night's Watches ranks to only 700 men, and perhaps worse, killed off most of their senior officers and best warriors, including Lord Commander Jeor Mormont himself. The expedition force consisted of one hundred men from the Shadow Tower and two hundred men from Castle Black.

Oath- The oath used in the show leaves out one line from the oath in the books.

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

The Night's Watch has no heraldic symbol, to emphasize its sworn duty to be removed from petty politics of one lordly House or another, but to defend the lands of men as a whole. Thus, the Night's Watch uses solid black on its banner and shields, which symbolize the erasure of any allegiance to noble Houses. Even the "uniform" of the Night's Watch is to wear solid black clothing; members from wealthier families often buy all-black clothing before leaving for the Wall, while poor conscripts have their clothing simply dyed black when they reach the Wall (clothing which isn't always well-suited for cold weather). Solid black specifically denotes the rejection of heraldry, and is therefore strictly speaking not a "symbol" in and of itself, but the absence of a symbol.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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