The Hand of the King, or King's Hand, is a senior position of government and authority in the Seven Kingdoms. The position of the Hand is somewhat analogous to that of a Prime Minister: he chairs the small council and acts for and speaks with the authority of the King on the Iron Throne. The Hand is typically considered to be the second-most-powerful position in the kingdom.
A hand is often used as the symbol of the Hand of the King, such as on the wax seals of letters. Hands of the King often wear a badge of office shaped like a hand, such as a brooch or a gold necklace with a repeated hand design.
The amount of power each Hand wields varies depending on the king. Some kings are very hands-on in governance and in this case the Hand acts as a facilitator and advisor. In many cases, the king has no interest in the small decisions and day-to-day running of the kingdom, and in this case the Hand wields immense and semi-autonomous power.
The Hand's most noticeable authority is chairing meetings of the small council, discussing and debating policies and deciding which matters need to be brought to the king's attention. The Hand may also sit on the Iron Throne, should the king delegate the role to them.
History of the position
It is unknown if the position of King's Hand existed amongst the independent kingdoms, was a Valyrian tradition, or if it was a new position created by the Targaryen dynasty when they took control of Westeros.
Known Hands of the King
- Lord Orys Baratheon, known as Orys One-Hand, 1-7 AC, King's Hand and half-brother to King Aegon I, resigned in the aftermath of the First Dornish War after losing his sword hand.
- Lord Edmyn Tully, 7-9 AC, King's Hand to Aegon I.
- Ser Osmund Strong, ?-? AC, King's Hand to Aegon I, oversaw the construction of the Walls of King's Landing.
- Lord Alyn Stokeworth, 37 AC, King's Hand to Aegon I, killed by Harren the Red's squire.
- Prince Maegor Targaryen, 37-39 AC, King's Hand and brother to King Aenys I. Stripped of office for taking a second wife. Ascended Throne.
- Septon Murmison, 39-41 AC, King's Hand to Aenys I, regarded as one of the worst hands in history.
- Lord Lucas Harroway, 42-44 AC, King's Hand and Father-in-Law to King Maegor I. Executed after his daughter gave Maegor a deformed child.
- Lord Edwell Celtigar, 44-48 AC, King's Hand to Maegor I.
- Lord Robar Baratheon, 48-59 AC, Grandson of Orys Baratheon. Hand to King Jaehaerys I.
- Septon Barth, 59-99 AC, King's Hand to King Jaehaerys I.
- Ser Ryam Redwyne, 99-100 AC, King's Hand and Lord Commander of the King's Guard to King Jaehaerys I.
- Prince Baelon Targaryen, 100-101 AC, King's Hand and son to King Jaehaerys I.
- Ser Otto Hightower, 101-109 AC, King's Hand to King Jaehaerys I and Viserys I. Removed as Hand after pushing the inheritance of his daughter's sons over Princess Rhaenyra.
- Lyonel Strong, 109-120 AC, King's Hand to King Viserys I, died in a fire at Harrenhal.
- Lord Otto Hightower, 120-130 AC, King's Hand to King Viserys I and Aegon II. Reinstated after predecessor's death.
- Ser Criston Cole, 130 AC, King's Hand and Lord Commander of the King's Guard to King Aegon II, died at the Battle at the stony ridge.
- Lord Cregan Stark, 131 AC, King's Hand to King Aegon III. Served as Hand for a single day.
- Ser Tyland Lannister, 131-133 AC, King's Hand to King Aegon III, died of a winter chill.
- Lord Unwin Peake, 133-134 AC, King's Hand/Regent to King Aegon III.
- Lord Thaddeus Rowan, 134 AC-?, King's Hand to King Aegon III, Arrested for treason.
- Ser Marston Waters, unknown, King's Hand to King Aegon III, Slain by Ser Mervyn Flowers for attempting arrest.
- Grand Maester Munkun, unknown, King's Hand to King Aegon III.
- Ser Torrhen Manderly, ?-136 AC, King's Hand to King Aegon III.
- Unknown, c. 136-157 AC, King's Hand to Aegon III, served between Tyland Lannister and Viserys Targaryen.
- Prince Viserys Targaryen, 157-171 AC, King's Hand, brother to King Aegon III and uncle to King Daeron I and Baelor I. Ascended Throne.
- Lord Bracken, 142 AC-?, King's Hand to Kings Viserys II and Aegon IV.
- Lord Butterwell, unknown, King's Hand to King Aegon IV.
- Lord Lucas Lothston, 178 AC, King's Hand to King Aegon IV.
- Lord Jon Hightower, unknown, King's Hand to King Aegon IV.
- Lord Ambrose Butterwell, unknown-196 AC, King's Hand to King Daeron II, replaced for incompetence during the Blackfyre Rebellion.
- Lord Hayford, 196 AC, King's Hand to King Daeron II, Butterwell's replacement, killed at the Battle of Redgrass Field.
- Prince Baelor Targaryen, 196-209 AC, King's Hand and son to Daeron II, killed in a tourney mishap.
- Prince Valarr Targaryen, 209 AC, King's Hand and grandson to King Daeron II, died in the Great Spring Sickness.
- Ser Brynden Rivers, called Bloodraven, 209-233, King's Hand and half-uncle to King Aerys I.
- Lord Ormund Baratheon, 259-260, King's Hand to King Jaehaerys II. Killed at the Battle of the Stepstones during the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
- Lord Edgar Sloane, 260-262 AC, King's Hand to Kings Jaehaerys II and Aerys II, retired for his exceeding age.
- Lord Tywin Lannister, 262-281 AC, King's Hand to King Aerys II. Resigned after the Harrenhal tourney.
- Lord Owen Merryweather, 282 AC, King's Hand to King Aerys II. removed for incompetence during the War of the Usurper.
- Lord Jon Connington, 282-283 AC, King's Hand to King Aerys II. exiled after losing the Battle of the Bells.
- Lord Qarlton Chelsted, 283, King's Hand to Aerys II. Executed for refusing an order of the King.
- Lord Rossart, 283, King's Hand to Aerys II. Head of the Pyromancer's Guild, executed by Ser Jaime Lannister.
- Lord Jon Arryn, 283-298, King's Hand to King Robert I, died of poisoning by his wife.
- Lord Eddard Stark, 298, King's Hand to King Robert I, executed for treason by Joffrey I.
- Lord Tywin Lannister, 298-300 AC, King's Hand to Kings Joffrey I and Tommen I. His son Tyrion was Acting Hand in 299 AC. Killed with a crossbow by Tyrion.
- Ser Harys Swyft, 300 AC, King's Hand to King Tommen I, appointed by the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister. Briefly replaced by Lord Orton Merryweather, until he resigned his post after Queen Cersei's arrest.
- Lord Mace Tyrell, 300 AC-, King's Hand to King Tommen I, appointed by Regent Ser Kevan Lannister.
Hands to Claimants
- Lord Corlys Velaryon, 129-130 AC, Queen's Hand to Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, accused of treachery and imprisoned. Served as regent to King Aegon III for 131-132 AC, died of Winter fever.
- Lord Mace Tyrelll, 298-299 AC, King's Hand and Father-in-Law to King Renly Baratheon, later served as Hand to King Tommen I.
- Lord Alester Florent, 299 AC, King's Hand and Uncle-in-Law to King Stannis Baratheon, burnt alive for favourable winds after trying to make peace with the Lannisters during the War of the Five Kings.
- Ser Davos Seaworth, 299 AC-, King's Hand to King Stannis Baratheon.
- Ser Jon Connington, 300 AC-, King's Hand to King Aegon VI, served previously as Hand to King Aerys II.
- Ser Barristan Selmy, 300 AC-, Queen's Hand and Lord Commander of the Queen's Guard to Queen Danaerys I . Previously served as Lord Commander of the King's Guard to Kings Robert I and Joffrey I.