House of the Dragon: What is a Small Council?

With that in mind, let’s examine the seats on the king’s Small Council, remind you of some familiar faces from both Thrones and Dragon that make it up, and delve into the deeper history of the whole thing.

Hand of the King

King Viserys I Targaryen’s Hand of the King: Ser Otto Hightower
King Robert I Baratheon’s Hand of the King: Lord Jon Arryn, Lord Eddard Stark
King Joffrey I Baratheon’s Hand of the King: Lord Tywin Lannister, Tyrion Lannister
King Brandon I Stark’s Hand of the King: Lord Tyrion Lannister

The best way to understand the Hand of the King’s role is to revisit an old Westerosi adage: “The king eats and the hand takes the shit.” The Hand of the King is perhaps the most important political role in the Seven Kingdoms aside from the king himself. More than an advisor, more than a confidante, more than even someone like say a vice president – the Hand of the King takes an incredibly active role in governing the realm.

Some Hands are particularly…um, hands on…while others are a little more aloof, but all of them bear an enormous amount of responsibility. It’s the death of one Hand that jumpstarts the events of Game of Thrones. When his old mentor-turned-Hand Jon Arryn dies, King Robert Baratheon turns to the only other man he can trust to fill the important role: Ned Stark. In House of the Dragon, King Viserys has opted to keep his predecessor’s Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower, on in the same office.

Otto was only the last Hand of the King to King Jaehaerys I before he died. Prior to Otto, Jaehaerys ran through Lord Rogar Baratheon, Lord Daemon Velaryon, Lord Myles Smallwood, Septon Barth, Ser Ryam Redwyne, and Prince Baelon Targaryen. As all those “Lord” and “Ser” titles suggest, the Hand of the King is almost always a fellow nobleman, though noble blood is not a prerequisite of the job. In fact, the lowly-born Septon Barth is considered one of the finest Hand of the King’s ever and can be partially credited with the era of peace and prosperity that King Viserys has inherited.

Grand Maester

King Viserys I Targaryen’s Grand Maester: Grand Maester Mellos
King Robert I Baratheon’s Grand Maester: Grand Maester Pycelle
King Joffrey I Baratheon’s Grand Maester: Grand Maester Pycelle
King Brandon I Stark’s Grand Maester: Samwell Tarly

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