Faith of the Seven

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The Faith of the Seven, often simply referred to to as the Faith, is the dominant religion in most of the Seven Kingdoms. Followers of the Faith in the north are rare and are generally not found on the Iron Islands, where the religions of the old gods of the First Men and of the Drowned God respectively are still strong. The gods of the Faith are sometimes known as the new gods to differentiate them from the old gods from the north.

The Seven

Members of the Faith worship the Seven Who Are One, a single deity with seven aspects or faces.[1][2][3][4][5][6] For the less educated, however, this concept is often difficult to grasp, causing them to often believe that there are indeed seven different gods.[2] Depending on their need, worshippers pray to specific faces of the Seven. The seven faces are:

The seven aspects of one god, with the seven-pointed star in the middle. Supplemental material from Game of Thrones.
  • The Father, also referred to as the Father Above,[7][8][9][10] is depicted as a bearded man,[4] with a stern and strong face.[11] Judgement is said to belong to the Father.[12][7] Additionally, he protects “his children”.[13] He is often prayed to for justice,[4][13][14][15] and the phrase “may the Father judge [him/her/them/you] justly” is often said among followers of the Seven.[14][8][15] Additionally, one might pray to the Father asking him to defend someone in battle,[5] the strength to seek justice, and the wisdom to recognize it.[4]
  • The Mother, sometimes also called the Mother Above,[16][17] is a loving and protective[4] aspect of the Seven. She is often asked for mercy,[13][5][14] and to keep loved ones safe.[5][4][15] Offerings can be made to the Mother when a woman becomes pregnant,[1] to praise the Mother for giving the gift of life.[11]
  • The Warrior is always depicted with his sword,[4] and protects followers of the Seven from their foes.[11][12] The Warrior is often prayed to for courage,[5][18] as the septons teach.[15] Most men make offerings to the Warrior before battle,[1] while others might say a prayer.[5] Additionally, people might beseech the Warrior for a favorable condition during battle,[19] to watch over soldiers,[20] give them strength,[21][4][2] keep them safe, both in battle[22][4] and outside of battle,[23] and help warriors to victory.[22] He might also be asked to bring peace to the souls of the slain and give comfort to those who are left behind.[22] A septon might ask the Warrior to lend his strength to the arm of the man whose cause is just during a trial by battle,[10] The phrases “may the Warrior defend you”[15] and “may the Warrior give strength to your sword arm”[24] are frequently given.
  • The Smith, depicted with his hammer, is the mender of broken things [4] who puts the world of men to right.[11] Septons teach to pray to the Smith for strength,[15] and sailors might make offerings to the Smith prior to launching a ship, as to keep their ships safe.[1] Others might pray to the Warrior for protection.[4] Followers of the Seven can show their devotion to the Smith by wearing a small iron hammer about their neck.[25]
  • The Maid, also called the Maiden, is a beautiful,[4] innocent looking[26] young woman. People might pray to the Maiden to keep young women safe.[12][27] Catelyn Stark prays to her to lend courage to her daughters and guard them in their innocence,[4] while Arianne Martell lights candles to the Maid in thanks when a suitable marriage offer for her is made.[28] Cersei Lannister asks the Maid for forgiveness when admitting to having used sex to convince men to do her bidding.[29]
  • The Crone is an old, wizened and wise woman,[4][11] whose statues often show her with a raised lamp in one hand.[4][3] People pray to the Crone for wisdom[15][23] and guidance.[4][12][2]
  • The Stranger is neither male nor female, yet both at the same time. He is the outcast, the wanderer from far places, less and more than human, unknown and unknowable.[4] His face is the face of death.[11] He leads the newly deceased to the other world.[8] Those who feel like outcasts might light a candle for the Stranger.[20]

Organization

Leadership

Main articles: High Septon, and Most Devout
High Septon by Amok © Fantasy Flight Games

The head of the Faith is the High Septon, the Father of the Faithful, the voice of the new gods on earth.[30] A council of the highest ranking septons and septas, called the Most Devout, elect the High Septon, usually from among their own ranks,[3] although there have been notable exceptions. The septon who is elected gives up his name, as the Faith believes that the High Septon no longer has any need of a man’s name, since he has become the avatar of the gods.[3] Typically, the High Septon wears long white robes and a crown.[31][32] Septons and Septas from the Most Devout wear robes of cloth-of-silver and crystal coronets.[33]

Priests

A septon of House Tully. Artwork by Nacho Molina © Fantasy Flight Games

The male and female godsworn of the Faith are called septons and septas, respectively. Upon taking their vows, they set aside their last names, even if they come from noble families.[3] The septons lead worship with incense and censers, seven-sided crystals and songs,[34] while septas, typically dressed in white robes,[35] may serve as governesses in noble households; Septa Mordane, for example, serves House Stark.[36]

In villages which are too small to support a septon, a septon from a neighboring village might visit twice a year. Other times, a "wandering septon", a septon who travels from village to village without a specific sept at which he serves, might visit these small villages. These septons perform holy services, marriages, and forgive sins. While the septon is visiting the village, the people must provide him with food and a place to sleep.[37][2]

Silent Sisters

Main article: Silent Sisters

The silent sisters are tasked with preparing deceased for the grave.[38] They dress in grey robes, their faces hooded and shawled so only their eyes remain visible, [38][39][33] as it is “ill fortune to look on the face of death”.[38] The silent sisters do not speak to the living,[40] and although some claim that the silent sisters have their tongues cut out,[41] in truth the silent sisters have simply taken a vow of silence.[42]

The silent sisters remove the bowels and organs, and drain the blood from the corpses in their care. They may also stuff the body with fragrant herbs and salts to preserve it and hide the smell of decomposition.[43] When the deceased is transported back home, one of more more silent sisters might accompany the body.[23][40][38] Due to their task, the silent sisters are also called “death’s handmaidens”[33] and “handmaidens of the Stranger”.[44] Some even say that they are wives to the Stranger.[12]

Holy brothers & sisters

Several other lower-ranked monastic orders exist, including both "holy brothers"[27] and "holy sisters".[45] Many of the holy brothers wear tonsures, cutting the hair on their scalps as an act of humility and to show the Father that they have nothing to hide.[27]

Brown brothers serve at septries,[25][42] monastic communities of the Faith similar to monasteries. The brown brothers live in penitence, quiet contemplation, and prayer at these septries, and often take a vow of silence. The leader of the community bears the title of Elder Brother, and he is assisted by proctors.[42]

Begging brothers are ranked lower still. These men travel from place to place, but are nonetheless not to be confused with wandering septons, as the latter are one rank up in the Faith’s hierarchy. The begging brothers are dressed in threadbare or roughspun robes, and some might go about barefoot. They all wear a bowl on a leather thong around their necks.[2] Wandering the realm as a begging brother might be done as a penance.[46]

Faith Militant

Main articles: Faith Militant, Warrior's Sons, and Poor Fellows

The Faith Militant was the military arm of the Faith of the Seven, under the command of the High Septon. It was composed of two military orders, the Warrior's Sons, an order of knights who gave up their lands and gold, swearing their sword to the High Septon, and the Poor Fellows, made up from common men, hedge knights, and the like,[47] who guarded and escorted travelers.[3] The two orders were also known as the "Swords" and the "Stars" for their respective symbols. The Faith Militant is therefore also known as the Swords and Stars[48] or Stars and Swords.[49] Outlawed during the reign of King Maegor I Targaryen and disbanded by the High Septon during the reign of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen, the orders of the Faith Militant were only restored more than two centuries later, during the reign of King Tommen I Baratheon.[citation needed]

Rights and privileges

The Faith traditionally held several rights. Apart from the right to maintain its own military orders (i.e. the Faith Militant and its subdivisions, the Warrior's Sons and the Poor Fellows), the Faith also had the right to hold its own ecclesiastical courts to try servants of the Faith accused of wrongdoing, who were exempt from being tried in the lordly courts of local monarchs. In addition, the Faith's substantial wealth and properties were exempt from taxation.[45]

King Aegon I Targaryen tread lightly with the Faith and upheld all of these rights during his reign. Aegon's second son, King Maegor I Targaryen, outlawed the Faith Militant during the Faith Militant uprising.[45] King Jaehaerys I Targaryen and his Hand of the King, Septon Barth, reconciliated the Iron Throne with the Faith. In exchange for the promise that the Iron Throne would always protect and defend the Faith, the last few Warrior's Sons and Poor Fellows put down their weapons. Additionally, the Faith agreed to accept justice from the Iron Throne instead of being able to try the faithful themselves.[50] Whether or not the Faith retained the tax-exemption on its wealth and properties after Jaehaerys I's time hasn't been confirmed.

Practices

The Seven. Artwork by Guad © Fantasy Flight Games

The Faith of the Seven is the predominant religion of the Seven Kingdoms. It is practiced in Dorne, the Reach, the Stormlands, the Crownlands, most of the riverlands, the westerlands, and the Vale. Only on the Iron Islands and the North[51] are followers of the Faith of the Seven few. Although the laws of the Iron Throne and the gods are seen as separate,[37] teachings of the Faith are a heavy influence on the law and justice of the Kingdoms. The Faith preaches against prostitution,[52] gabling,[53] and bastardy,[37] does not recognize polygamous marriages,[54][55] holds slavery to be an abomination,[56] considers prostitution[52] and incest[4][54] as monstrous and vile sins. and considers no man as accursed as the kinslayer[57] – although the degree of kin and circumstance of killing one’s kin (e.g., in war) hold significant influence.[58]

In association with the seven aspects of their god, the number seven is considered holy,[52] which is demonstrated in numerous aspects. For example, septons speak of the seven aspects of grace during prayer;[59] The gods are said to have made seven wonders;[60] In the night sky, seven "wanderers", held sacred by the Faith, can be seen, each sacred to one of the Seven; The red wanderer is held to be sacred to the Smith.[61] During a child naming ceremony,[34] as part of the knighting ceremony,[62][51] and when anointing a king,[3][30] seven oils are used. In numerous other occasions, the number seven reoccurs.

Worship

Religious worship is done in buildings with seven walls[4] called septs.[34][63] The wealthier septs have statues and altars for each of the Seven, whereas poorer septs might use carved masks or even only crude charcoal drawings of the Seven.[4] The altars are sometimes inlaid richly with mother-of-pearl, onyx, and lapis azuli.[64] Windows are from leaded glass, depicting scenes and pictures,[64] and a great crystal catches light, spreading it in a rainbow of colours.[65] Septs can be found across the Seven Kingdoms, although they are rare in the north and absent from the Iron Islands.

Some lords might agree to have a sept build upon their lands. If such cases, the septs are the property of the lord in question.[66]

The Faith. Artwork by Nicole Cardiff © Fantasy Flight Games

Prayer in a sept is done to each of the seven faces of the god that one wishes to ask for aid.[citation needed] Holding hands[5] and singing is often part of worship and prayer.[citation needed] Candles can be lit to honor the gods,[67] although the Stranger typically receives the fewest candles.[citation needed] People may wear signs of devotion to a particular god, such as a small iron hammer on a thong for the Smith.[25][33] Crystals and light are important elements in the Faith.[34]

The Faith has a number of holy books.[68] The most important one is The Seven-Pointed Star, which contains the Maiden’s Book.[2] The Seven-Pointed Star tells, among others, about the history of the Faith.[68] Septons who cannot read or write memorize prayers, rituals, and ceremonies, and are able to recite long passages from The Seven-Pointed Star.[2]

Hymn's for a particular god can be sung during prayer.[5] There is also a children’s lullaby about the Seven, “The Song of the Seven”, which honors all the gods except for the Stranger, as no one ever sings of him.[11]

Holy days

Each of the seven gods of the Faith have their own holy day.[69] Only one is currently known by name: Maiden's Day, a day on which maidens of noble houses are required to go to the sept to light tall white candles at the Maiden's feet and hang parchment garlands about her neck. Mothers, whores and widows are barred from the sept along with men. Those maidens who enter the sept sing songs of innocence.[70]

Trials

Both regular trials as well as trials by combat are presided over by a septon. During a regular trial, the septon will begin with a prayer, beseeching the Father Above to guide them towards justice.[9] During the trial itself, the septon will swear a man to honesty before he is to give testimony.[9] At the start of a trial by combat, the septon will raise a crystal sphere above his head,[71] He might ask the gods to look down and bear witness upon the trial, and help them find truth in the soul of the accused, granting the accused life and freedom if innocent and death if guilty,[71] or beseech the Father to aid in judgement, and the Warrior to lend strength to the person whose cause is just.[10]

A special form of trial by combat, which is seldom used, is the trial of seven. The custom originates from the Andals, who believed that the gods would be honored to see seven champions fight on each side, and therefore be more likely to see that justice was done. The accused is to find six others to stand with him in battle. If he is unable to do so, he is considered to be guilty.[72]

Marriage customs

Main article: marriage

A marriage ceremony takes place in a sept.[73] The ceremony is presided over by a septon and involves prayers, vows, singing, and lighting of candles.[74] Thus far, all the wedding gowns that have been described during ceremonies performed following the customs of the Faith have been a shade of white – Sansa Stark wore a gown of ivory samite[74] and Margaery Tyrell wore ivory silk on two occasions.[7][75] The bride also wears a cloak in the colors of her house, called the “maiden's cloak”.[74][7] The bride's father, or the person standing in his place (usually kin or whoever else is closest to living kin), will escort the bride to the marriage altar, placed between the statues of the Mother and the Father, where the septon and groom await her.[74][7]

Seven vows are made, seven blessings are invocated, and seven promises are exchanged, after which a wedding song is sung. Next, a challenge is made to speak against the marriage, and if the challenge goes unanswered, the wedding cloaks are exchanged.[7] The bride's father, or the person standing in his place, removes the cloak from the bride’s shoulders, so that her husband can place a cloak of his own house colors about her shoulders. This signifies the bride passing from her father's protection into her husband's protection. The bride and groom speak the words “With this kiss I pledge my love”,[74][7] potentially followed with an additional “… and take you for my lord and husband” and “ …and take you for my lady and wife” by the bride and groom respectively,[74] after which the septon will declare them to be man and wife, stating they are “one flesh, one heart, one soul, now and forever”.[74][7]

The wedding ceremony is followed by a feast.[74][7] A wedding pie will be presented during the feast, which is filled with living birds (e.g., doves, songbirds, bluejays, skylarks, pigeons, doves, mockingbirds, nightingales, sparrows, parrots). The bride and groom cut open the pie, allowing the birds to fly away.[76][7] After the feast follows the bedding. The bride is escorted to her bedroom, usually by the men from the feast, who will undress her along the way while making rude jokes.[76][77][74] The women at the feast will do the groom the same honors.[74][76] Usually, once the bride and groom are in the bedchamber they are left alone, though wedding guests might stand on the other side of the door, shouting suggestions.[74] Nonetheless, in some cases, witnesses might be present for the bedding,[78] though it is unknown how far this witness duty goes.

A marriage that has not been consummated can be set aside by the High Septon or a Council of Faith.[79][33] Neither bride nor groom needs to be present for an annulment; However, it must be requested by at least one of the wedded pair.[80] Divorce in Westeros is not common.[81] Nonetheless, a king is able to put his queen aside – even if she has given birth to his children – and marry another.[82][83]

Death

Afterlife

According to the Seven-Pointed Star, lives are like candle flames, easily snuffed out by errant winds.[84] The septons teach that afterlife is a sweet surcease, and sing of voyaging to a far sweet land where men and women may laugh and love and feast until the end of days in the Father’s golden hall.[85][86] The Faith holds that there are seven heavens and seven hells.[87][62][88][3] Each of the seven hells is deeper than the next.[89] Sinners who do not repent their sins go to the seven hells;[84] Although The Seven-Pointed Star states that all sins may be forgiven, crimes must still be punished.[88][90] The Lord of the Seven Hells is said to command demons and practice black arts.[37]

Funeral customs

The Silent Sisters attend to the deceased.

The bodies of the deceased are given over to the silent sisters for ritual cleansing.[91] They remove the bowels and organs, and drain the blood from the corpses in their care. They may also stuff the body with fragrant herbs and salts to preserve it and hide the smell of decomposition.[43] The body of the deceased, especially if it concerns a nobility of high importance, might be placed on a bier. The body of Lord Corlys Velaryon, Hand of the King at the time of his death, was placed beneath the Iron Throne, where it remained for seven days.[92] The body of King Joffrey I Baratheon was placed on a bier beneath the statue of the Stranger in the Great Sept of Baelor,[8] and the body of Tywin Lannister, both grandfather of the King and Hand of the King at the time of his death, was placed on a bier in the Great Sept as well, where he too was supposed to remain for seven days.[33] During such a funeral service, lasting several days, prayers are held on three occasions; While the morning services are open only to nobility, the afternoon prayers are open to the smallfolk, and the evening prayers for all.[93] People of lesser importance or status might be placed upon a bier elsewhere (e.g., Ser Hugh of the Vale).[38] A family member, friend, or even a concerned stranger stands last vigil.[38][33]

When a man is laid in his grave, a septon usually says some prayers for him.[72] The prayer begins with, "Father Above, judge [person] justly".[7] A crystal might be placed upon the grave.[94]

When the deceased dies far from home, his body will usually be escorted back to his or her family. At least one, and often more, silent sisters will accompany the body.[23][40][38]

History

Andals

The Faith of the Seven arose among the Andals who lived in the hills of Andalos. It is claimed that the Seven walked there in human form. According to The Seven-Pointed Star, the Father brought down seven stars from heaven and placed them on the brow of Hugor of the Hill, the first king of the Andals, to form his crown. The Maid brought forth a girl supple as a willow with eyes like deep blue pools that became Hugor his first wife, the Mother made her fertile, who bore him forty-four mighty sons as foretold by the Crone. The Warrior gave each son strength of arms and the Smith wrought each a suit of iron plate.[68] It is said that when she peered through the door of death, the Crone let the first raven into the world.[24]

The Faith was brought to Westeros when the Andals invaded from Essos thousands of years ago, and largely supplanted the local worship of the old gods. Some of the Andal warriors had the seven-pointed star of the Faith carved into their flesh to show their devotion.[12] Although the Andals came late to the Reach,[95] the Hightowers were among the first Westerosi lords to welcome the Andals, considering war bad for trade. Lord Damon Hightower was the first to accept the Faith. To honor the Seven, he constructed the first sept in Oldtown, and six more elsewhere in his realm. Following his premature death, Septon Robeson became regent for Damon’s newborn son, Triston. When Septon Robeson eventually died, Tristane had the Starry Sept raised in his honor.[96] Oldtown eventually became the center of the Faith, and the Starry Sept home to the High Septon.

Aegon the Conqueror

Aegon I Targaryen is crowned and anointed by the High Septon at the Starry Sept in Oldtown

When he learned that Aegon the Conqueror had landed in Westeros, the High Septon locked himself in the Starry Sept for seven days and nights, seeking guidance from the gods. On the seventh day, the High Septon saw a vision given to him by the Crone, showing him that if Oldtown resisted Aegon, the Hightower, Citadel, and Starry Sept would burn. The High Septon warned Lord Manfred Hightower of what he had seen, after which the Lord of the Hightower decided to offer no resistance to the Targaryens. Aegon dated the start of his reign from the day the High Septon anointed him at the Starry Sept.[30] Since then, it has been traditional for the High Septon to give their blessing to every new king.[97][3]

The Targaryens had converted to the Faith on Dragonstone before Aegon’s day,[1] and Aegon himself always treaded lightly with the Faith.[48] When a marriage was proposed between Aegon’s younger son Maegor and the newborn daughter[N 1] of his elder son, the High Septon protested.[54] He suggested his own niece, Lady Ceryse Hightower, as a bride for the young prince. Maegor and Ceryse were subsequently wed in 25 AC at the Starry Sept in Oldtown,[49][98] and matters calmed down again.

Faith Militant uprising

Main article: Faith Militant uprising
Maegor I Targaryen upon Balerion burns down the Sept of Remembrance at the start of his reign.

Issues arose during the reign of Aegon I’s heir, Aenys I Targaryen, when Prince Maegor secretly took a second wife in 39 AC. The polygamous marriage angered the Faith, and Aenys felt forced to exile his brother[54] when Maegor refused to set Alys aside.[55] Although Maegor left for Pentos,[54] the High Septon was not yet satisfied. As such, Aenys appointed Septon Murmison as his new Hand of the King, but even he could not heal the rift between the throne and the Faith.[54]

However, when Aenys wed his daughter Rhaena and son Aegon to one another in 41 AC, the High Septon denounced him, calling him "King Abomination"; This was the start of the Faith Militant uprising, during which even the pious lords and smallfolk who had loved Aenys turned against the king.[54]

The Faith Militant uprising lasted the remaining year of Aenys I’s reign, and the entire reign of his brother and successor, Maegor I. Maegor placed a bounty on the Faith Militant,[48] and put out a decree that prohibited the Faith from arming itself.[3][84] During Maegor’s campaigns against the Faith, thousands died. Although Maegor’s death resulted in the end of the campaigns, conflicts between the Crown and the Faith lasted until about a decade[N 2] into the reign of Maegor’s successor, Jaehaerys I. Jaehaerys I eventually resolved the issues between the crown and the Faith by promising that the Crown would always protect and defend the Faith. In return, the last few Stars and Swords were to put down their weapons, and the Faith was to agree to accept justice from the Iron Throne from that moment onwards.

Baelor the Blessed

The septon-king Baelor I assumed the Iron Throne in 161 AC. The most pious of all Targaryen kings, Baelor’s interests were the Seven. He convinced the High Septon to dissolve his marriage to his sister, Daena Targaryen, arguing that the marriage had been contracted before he had become king, and in addition had never been consummated. Next, Baelor placed all three of his sisters in what would become known as the Maidenvault, where only maidens were allowed to join them. The king stated that he wished to preserve their innocence, but some wondered whether Baelor had done so to because he feared the temptation of their beauty himself.

Baelor’s edicts became more and more concerned with spiritual matters, and grew more and more zealous and erratic as his reign continued. He even took a septon’s vows, preventing himself from ever marrying again. Meanwhile, the High Septon grew more and more influential. When he died, Baelor declared to the Most Devout that the Seven had revealed to him the identity of the new High Septon. The Most Devout elected Baelor’s choice; A stonemason who carved his stonework so beautifully that Baelor was convinced he was the Smith in human form. However, the man could neither read nor write, and was unable to recall even the most simplest of prayers. He died of illness after a year, at which point Baelor declared that an eight-year-old boy, whom he claimed to have seen speaking to doves who answered him in the voices of the Seven, should become the new High Septon. The Most Devout once again did as Baelor desired.[99][3]

Baelor also ordered the construction of a new sept atop Visenya's Hill. Completed many years after Baelor’s death[N 3] the Great Sept of Baelor became the new seat of the High Septon and the Most Devout,[citation needed] and a preeminent center of religious education in the realm.[100]

Recent History

During the Great Spring Sickness, King’s Landing was one of the most affected areas. There, the High Septon, a third of the Most Devout, and nearly all the silent sisters died from the sickness.[37]

Following the death of King Maekar I Targaryen, a Great Council was called to settle the issue of succession. The crown was quietly offered to Maekar’s third son, Aemon, who had taken his maester’s vows years before. The High Septon himself offered Aemon to absolve him from his vows after Aemon refused to break them. Regardless, Aemon refused.[101]

Although King Aerys II Targaryen left a treasury overflowing with gold upon his death, King Robert I Baratheon has emptied the treasury, leaving the Crown in debt. The Faith is among those of whom the Crown borrows gold.[67]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Lord Eddard Stark, the new Hand of the King, is informed during his first small council meeting that the Crown has had to borrow money from multiple factions, including the Faith.[67] Following the death of King Robert I Baratheon, Eddard is arrested. He is brought to the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor to falsely confess his crimes, but King Joffrey I Baratheon unexpectedly orders Eddard’s execution, which is immediately performed upon the steps, to the distress of the High Septon.[31]

Two hundred jars of wildfire are discovered in a storeroom beneath the Great Sept of Baelor, leaving the High Septon beside himself with terror until they were safely removed.[102]

A Clash of Kings

After he has crowned himself king, Renly Baratheon creates the Rainbow Guard, his form of the Kingsguard.[103] Presumably, to honor the Faith, using e.g., the rainbow cloaks of the Warrior’s Sons,[3] the rainbow of light the crystals in the septs create, [104] and the peace banner of the Faith: a rainbow-striped flag with seven long tails, on a staff topped by a seven-pointed star.[105]

The High Septon believes that the Crown has profaned the Great Sept of Baelor by execution Eddard Stark there, and is convinced that the Lannisters had lied about their intent.[91]

As the dissatisfaction grows among the population of King’s Landing, Tyrion Lannister observes a begging brother preaching that the High Septon has forgotten the gods.[102]

When Myrcella Baratheon leaves for Dorne, the High Septon blesses her before the ship leaves. As the procession, including the High Septon, travels back to the Red Keep, a riot breaks out, in which the High Septon is killed.[32] Tyrion Lannister, the acting Hand of the King, appoints the new High Septon.[106] Tyrion tells him to tell the people that Stannis Baratheon has vowed to burn the Great Sept.[106]

Following the victory over Stannis at the Battle of the Blackwater, the High Septon proclaims to King Joffrey I Baratheon that the Faith permits him to break his betrothal to Sansa Stark, arguing that her father’s treason has made the contract invalid.[107]

A Storm of Swords

The High Septon joins a meeting of the small council, where Lord Tywin Lannister insists that the High Septon has to be crowned at the king’s wedding, and orders his daughter to place an order with her goldsmiths to replace the crown which has been missing since the riot.[108]

Tyrion Lannister marries Sansa Stark in Baelor’s Sept.[74] King Joffrey I later marries Margaery Tyrell in the Great Sept as well, with the High Septon officiating the wedding.[7] He later asks the Father to lead them to justice when Tyrion’s trial begins.[9]

A Feast for Crows

The death and destruction left behind by the War of the Five Kings, as well as the increasing violence towards the smallfolk, more and more people turn towards the Faith. Thousands travel to King’s Landing, calling themselves "sparrows" after the most common bird, as they are the most common men and women.[citation needed]

Queen Regent Cersei Lannister has the High Septon murdered by Ser Osney Kettleblack, as she fears the man was a catspawn of Tyrion.[43][90] During the elections of a new High Septon, the sparrows oust the most likely candidate, leading to the rise of a new, pious High Septon, the so-called High Sparrow.[citation needed] The High Sparrow empties the vaults of the Great Sept of Baelor in order to provide for the poor.[3] The Faith is angered as the Crown refuses to pay off its loan, leading the High Sparrow to refuse to anoint King Tommen. In an attempt to alleviate the crown's debts, gain the Faith's blessing, and gain more protection from her purported enemies, Queen Regent Cersei allows the High Sparrow to revive the Faith Militant, ignorant of its history of causing trouble for monarchs.[3] Over a hundred knights pledge their swords and lives to the Warrior's Sons,[52] including Lancel Lannister, the newly-wed Lord of Darry, who renounces his titles, land, and new bride in order to join the Warrior's Sons in King’s Landing.[84]

Cersei plots to frame Tommen’s Queen, [[Margaery Tyrell], for adultery and treason. She seduces Osney Kettleblack and has him falsely confess to the High Sparrow that he had intercourse with Margaery and two of her three cousins, Megga and Elinor.[70] The High Sparrow acts on the information and has Margaery arrested when she visits the Great Sept. Cersei feigns concern publicly and visits the Great Sept in order to appear to the population that she wishes Margaery released. However, the High Sparrow, suspicious of Osney's enthusiastic confession, has had Osney tortured until he spoke the truth. Acting on Ser Osney’s new confession, the High Sparrow has Cersei arrested during her visit for several crimes, including the murder of the previous High Septon.[90]

A Dance with Dragons

The Faith continues to keep Cersei a prisoner in a tower of the Great Sept of Baelor, and has her placed under the care of three septas. Cersei confesses to the High Sparrow that she had relations with her cousin, Lancel Lannister, and all three of the Kettleblack brothers, knowing that such sins would not earn her an execution. However, she continues to deny involvement in the death of the previous High Septon and the death of her late husband, King Robert I Baratheon.[29]

Cersei’s uncle, Kevan Lannister, arrives in King’s Landing, and comes to an agreement with the High Septon. Intend on drawing “her fangs”,[109] Kevan does not protest when the Faith demands Cersei to submit to walk of atonement from the Great Sept to the Red Keep, escorted by Warrior's Sons, Poor Fellows, and septas.[110]

When Varys later murders Kevan, he states that one of the reasons why is because Kevan was trying to bind to Faith to Tommen’s rule.[109]

Behind the Scenes

George R. R. Martin based the Faith of the Seven on the medieval Catholic Church, although it borrows other elements as well. The Faith’s central doctrine that there is one God who has seven aspects is partly based on the Catholic belief that there is one God who has three aspects: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. With the Seven, instead, you have The Father, The Mother, The Maiden, The Crone, The Smith, The Warrior, and The Stranger, who's the death figure.[111][112] Martin has also stated that the amount of power the Faith has, similarly to the Catholic Church, in great part depends on who was chosen as High Septon or Pope.[113] The Faith Militant is loosely based on crusading orders, e.g. Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller.[114]

Quotes

Even Aegon tread lightly where the Faith was concerned . . . it was his son Maegor who broke their power, but even then the Faith came back under kings like Baelor the Blessed.[113]
George R. R. Martin


The old High Septon told my father that kings' laws are one thing, and the laws of the gods another.[37]
– Prince Aegon Targaryen to Duncan the Tall


Jaime: Crippled or whole, a knight of the Kingsguard serves for life.

Tywin: Cersei ended that when she replaced Ser Barristan on grounds of age. A suitable gift to the Faith will persuade the High Septon to release you from your vows.[8]

Jaime Lannister and Tywin Lannister


One god with seven aspects. That's so my lady, and you are right to point it out, but the mystery of the Seven Who Are One is not easy for simple folk to grasp, and I am nothing if not simple, so I speak of seven gods.[2]
Meribald to Brienne of Tarth


Lancel: My faith is all the nourishment I need.

Jaime: Faith is like porridge. Better with milk and honey.[84]

Lancel Lannister and Jaime Lannister


Give me priests who are fat and corrupt and cynical, the sort who like to sit on soft satin cushions, nibble sweetmeats, and diddle little boys. It's the ones who believe in gods who make the trouble.[115]
Tyrion Lannister to Haldon


Have you ever noticed that septas always look like prunes? That’s what a life of chastity will do to you.[116]
Gerris Drinkwater to Quentyn Martell

Notes

  1. The World of Ice and Fire states that "[Ceryse Hightower] was advanced by her uncle, the High Septon, after he protested the betrothal of the thirteen-year-old Prince Maegor to Maegor's newborn niece, Princess Rhaena. Ceryse and Maegor were married in 25 AC." (The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I); However, it has since been stated that Maegor was eleven at the suggestion of betrothing him to the newborn Rhaena. Notes taken from a reading of The Sons of the Dragon state that Maegor had just turned twelve when the betrothal to Rhaena was suggested, placing the attempt in 24 AC
  2. Septon Barth served as Jaehaerys I’s Hand for forty years, until his death in 99 AC. Jaehaerys’s reign began in 48 AC, indicating that Barth became Hand about a decade after Jaehaerys ascended the Iron Throne.
  3. Although it has not yet been stated when the Great Sept of Baelor was completed exactly, it was completed at least by 187 AC, when King Daeron I and Prince Maron Martell visited the sept.

References

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  116. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer.

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