The Purple Wedding is an event in the War of the Five Kings which involves the death of King Joffrey Baratheon at the wedding feast to his new queen, Margaery Tyrell. Mere hours after their wedding vows in the Great Sept of Baelor, King Joffrey is murdered by poison during the wedding feast. Joffrey's uncle Tyrion Lannister is arrested for the murder, though the actual culprit(s) is unknown at this point.
With House Lannister standing triumphant over its enemies after the Battle of the Blackwater and the Red Wedding, Joffrey is to cement his family's victory by marrying Margaery Tyrell, securing the support of the powerful House Tyrell. The marriage ceremony is conducted by the High Septon at the Great Sept of Baelor, as befit a royal wedding.
During the feast, Margaery attempts to make a charitable gesture by ordering that the leftovers of the feast be given the poor, with Joffrey's approval. However Cersei, desperate to prove that Margaery has not cast aside her authority as Queen, privately orders Grand Maester Pycelle to have the scraps given to the dogs.
The feast continues, Olenna Tyrell approaches Sansa Stark, expressing her condolence for the fate her family. She straightens Sansa's hair and necklace. Tyrion arrives and Olenna suggests her husband take her to Highgarden one day, saying she would enjoy her stay there.
Joffrey makes a small speech about the importance of the Royal Wedding and the end of the War of the Five Kings, only to introduce a mock play of "his" victory over the rival claimants to the Iron Throne and the pretenders seeking to secede from the realm. All the players are dwarfs, so Joffrey mockingly tries to coerce Tyrion to join them. Tyrion carefully evades this demand, but at the same time deliberately insults Joffrey by subtly referencing his cowardice at the Battle of Blackwater; Joffrey, furious, stalks over and empties his wine goblet onto his uncle's head. His actions are observed with increasing and obvious disgust by his bride, the guests, and even his mother and grandfather.
Joffrey then declares he is thirsty and wants Tyrion to be his new cupbearer. He offers him the cup to fill, then drops it under the table, but Sansa picks it up for Tyrion; Tyrion fills it but silently refuses to kneel to Joffrey, prompting Joffrey to repeat the demand in increasing, petulant rage. Margaery distracts him by indicating the arrival of the traditional pigeon pie, and Joffrey takes a gulp of the wine from the goblet before handing it to his wife to set it on the table. As Joffrey cuts the pie with his Valyrian steel sword and shares some with Margaery, Tyrion and Sansa attempt to leave, but Joffrey calls them back and demands Tyrion bring him the cup again, as the dry pie is making him thirsty.
After Joffrey takes a gulp, he starts coughing, but seems unconcerned for a moment. His coughing quickly grows so severe, however, that his throat closes and he cannot breathe; Margaery notices and shouts that he is choking. Lurching forward, Joffrey falls to the floor. Jaime and Cersei Lannister - his biological parents - rush to his side to aid him, but he continues to gag, as blood runs out of his nose and his face turns grotesquely purple. With his last strength, he attempts to point to his uncle, seemingly believing him to be the culprit. Tyrion, meanwhile, has picked up the wine goblet and is attempting to sniff it for poison. The whites of Joffrey's eyes turn red, and wheezing out his last breath, he dies.
In the confusion of Joffrey's death, Dontos Hollard calmly tells Sansa Stark to go with him if she wants to live, and she relents. Together they are able to slip away and flee the city, where she had been held as a prisoner since Joffrey publicly executed her father, Eddard Stark, two years before. This was a rather large blow to Lannister security, given that Sansa was the last Stark heir publicly confirmed to still be alive.
Sansa and Dontos used a rowboat to reach a waiting ship owned by none other than Petyr Baelish. After Sansa climbed aboard, he promptly ordered a crewmember to shoot Dontos dead with a crossbow - giving the explanation that Dontos only saved Sansa because he promised him gold, but he might later reveal the secret of her location, while a dead man will remain silent.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the assassination of King Joffrey at his wedding receives no name, unlike the Red Wedding. The term "Purple Wedding" is a fan-term referring to the wine used to assassinate Joffrey and the fact that purple is a color associated with royalty; and, of course, to draw a parallel with the infamous Red Wedding. The nickname became so popular that even George R.R. Martin and the HBO production team have been known to use it. As Martin explained in an interview with TV Guide, "It's what the fans call the Purple Wedding, based on the color of the wine, which plays a big part."
His death is slightly different in the books. Instead of taking place outside the Red Keep, the wedding feast takes place inside the Red Keep itself, with Joffrey, Margaery and their families seated near the Iron Throne. In addition, Jaime doesn't return to King's Landing until shortly after the events. As Joffrey chokes to death, he claws repeatably at his throat in a desperate bid to get air, leaving bloody gashes.
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