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The Faith Militant (Histories & Lore)

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"The Faith Militant" is part of the Histories & Lore, a special feature in the Blu-ray of Season 5 of Game of Thrones. It is narrated by Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow.

Synopsis

The High Sparrow narrates the origins of the Faith Militant, its rebellion against House Targaryen that plunged the realm into war, and its ultimate decline and disbandment.

Narration

The High Sparrow: Today, men know the Seven as statues in the septs, but in the old days, the gods themselves walked among men. They crowned Hugor of the Hill the first king of the Andal people, and promised him that his descendants would rule great kingdoms in a foreign continent. When the time came, the Andals carved the Seven-Pointed Star upon their bodies, and set sail for the strange land across the Narrow Sea... Westeros.

Whilst Andal warriors battled the First Men for kingdoms, Andal septons battled for souls, and were received just as courteously. We don't know how many bold and pious men lost their lives, but adversity bred strength. Our purest and most righteous believers took up the sword to defend and preserve the Faith from its enemies. So was born the order of the Faith Militant.

When Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros, the High Septon locked himself in a sept for seven days and seven nights. Finally, the Crone lifted her golden lamp, and showed him the path ahead. The High Septon, himself, would anoint and crown Aegon as Lord of the Seven Kingdoms; and the Faith Militant rallied behind Aegon in governing his newly united land.

Yet Aegon and his sisters never wholly accepted the Faith. The High Septon had conceded Aegon's marriages to his sisters as a relic of his Valyrian heritage, which would soon fade. But when Aegon's heir wed his daughter to his son, the Faith could brook such abomination no longer. The High Septon led the denunciation of the Targaryens. And all over Westeros, the Faith Militant took up their swords against the dynasty and its supporters.

The Faith Militant set upon and punished the septon who had performed the ceremony. A few of the Faith Miitant's more... militant members, even scaled the walls of the castle, and would have slain the king and his family, had a knight of the Kingsguard not intervened. Frightened, the king fled to Dragonstone, where he soon died of cramps.

And so ascended the king's younger brother, Maegor the Cruel. His first act was to challenge the Faith Militant to kill him, if they believed his rule to be ungodly. To the order's eternal credit, they accepted. Ser Damon Morrigen proposed a "Trial by Seven", Ser Damon and six of the Faith Militant against the king and his six champions. It was a contest in which the kingdom itself was at stake, and the accounts and tales are many.

But at the end of it, Maegor alone lived, proving that the throne was rightfully his. He mounted the black dragon, Balerion, and burned down the sept in King's Landing while the Faith Militant were inside at morning prayers. The screams of the burning and dying men were said to echo throughout the city.

Though Maegor had won the trial by seven, he demanded the complete destruction of the Faith Militant and the Faith, itself, if necessary. He made war upon the order wherever he found it. Yet the Faith Militant would not surrender, raising armies of their own and turning Maegor's own lords against him. The Father's justice may not always be swift, but it is certain. One morning, Maegor was found dead on the Iron Throne. No one knows how. Maegor's cruelty died with him.

His successor saw the wisdom of a united crown and faith, and his Hand reached an accord with the High Septon. As long as the Iron Throne defended the Faith, the Faith would put aside its own swords... and its condemnation of the Targaryens. Perhaps the High Septon felt he had no course but compromise. Outlawed and hunted for years, the Faith Militant was but a shadow of its former self. Without its own guardians, the Faith would have to rely on corrupt worldly kings and their corrupt worldly courts.

For thousands of years, the Faith Militant had stood watch over the Faith, and then its sun set. Now, after years of war and destruction, of abomination and blasphemy, none can argue that we have been walking through darkness. Perhaps the time has come when the sun must rise again.

Notes

  • The video only briefly summarizes the events of the Faith Militant uprising, which lasted throughout the six years of Maegor's reign. The narration only details up to the start of the conflict, with Maegor retaking King's Landing. The major field battles of the war only occurred after that, along with numerous court intrigues.
    • According to Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson, co-authors of The World of Ice and Fire sourcebook (2014), George R.R. Martin remarked to them in passing that the story of the "Sons of the Dragon" - spanning the reigns of Aenys and Maegor, centered around the Faith Militant uprising - could easily sustain three full novels' worth of narrative. Martin also said, however, that he doesn't think he'd ever have time to sit down and write three new books, given how long it's taking him to finish the main novel series.
  • This marks the first time that King Aenys Targaryen has definitively appeared as part of the wider TV continuity. Before this the only reference to him was in a single page on the book of lineages seen in Season 1, only really visible through freeze-frame analysis.
  • The video doesn't actually refer to Aenys I or his surviving youngest son Jaehaerys I by name, but their appearances in it very closely match how official artwork in the World of Ice and Fire sourcebook depicts them. It also doesn't explicitly make clear that Maegor's "successor" was in fact his elder brother's surviving son, and that he actually usurped the throne ahead of his nephew.
    • Aegon's two sister-wives, Visenya and Rhaenys, appear in the video as well and the artwork also closely matches their appearances from prior official artwork. Visenya wore her hair in braids so it wouldn't get in the way during combat - though she usually wore it in one large braid, rather than two braids as in the video.
  • The video depicts that Aenys's eldest son and daughter were married to each other but doesn't give their names: Aegon and Rhaena. Aegon later died rebelling against Maegor, who then captured and forcibly married Rhaena (though she survived his death). There was also a middle brother, Viserys, whom Maegor had tortured to death. Jaehaerys I - seen in the video negotiating peace with the High Septon - was Aenys's third and youngest son.
  • The sept in King's Landing which served as the local headquarters of the Faith Militant (which Maegor burned with dragon-fire), was called the "Sept of Remembrance", in honor of Queen Rhaenys after she died fighting in Dorne - Aenys's mother, not Maegor's. A few years later, Maegor ordered the construction of the Dragonpit over the sept's former location atop Rhaenys's Hill.
  • The video doesn't make this clear, but the septon that performed the wedding between King Aenys's son and daughter was Septon Murmison, who replaced Maegor as Hand of the King after his falling out with his half-brother. The video seems to imply that the Faith Militant simply scourged Murmison with whips - actually, the Faith Militant dragged Murmison from his palanquin as he was being carried through the city, and tore him to pieces.
  • The video states that King Aenys died of "cramps" on Dragonstone brought on by the stress of the uprising. This is indeed the official version of events - though many suspect that Maegor's own mother Visenya poisoned Aenys. Even many who suspect this don't necessarily think it was a bad thing, given that by that point Aenys was nearly catatonic and dragging down the entire Targaryen dynasty. On the other hand, Aenys always had frail health, and it is not impossible that he simply died from the stress.

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