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The City Watch of King's Landing, also known as the Gold Cloaks, are the defenders of the city of King's Landing (including the Red Keep) and the enforcers of the law, sworn only to the Crown. The Watch presumably falls under the bailiwick of the Master of Laws.[1]


The City Watch wear cloaks, usually made of heavy wool, dyed gold. Their ringmail, boots, and gloves are black.[2] The officers (such as the captains of the gates into the city) wear black breastplates ornamented with four golden disks.[3] They can be used as guards, foot soldiers or in some cases, as mounted lancers.[4] Nonetheless, the watchmen are not true soldiers, and their discipline in a pitched battle shows this fact.

The Gold Cloaks use iron cudgels and spears topped by black iron heads.


The City Watch was established under the Targaryen Dynasty. When the Targaryens were overthrown, King Robert Baratheon continued their presence.

Commander Janos Slynt was a corrupt man who embezzled money from his men, but Robert deigned to keep him on lest his successor be worse. After Robert's death, Slynt accepted a bribe from Petyr Baelish to support Queen Cersei in a power struggle against the Hand of the King, Lord Eddard Stark, which was ultimately successful. He was rewarded with lordship, but was exiled to the Wall by the next Hand, Tyrion Lannister for his corruption and next potential betrayal.

His replacement was Ser Jacelyn Bywater, an honorable veteran of Greyjoy's Rebellion, who helped Tyrion prepare the city's defenses in the face of impending invasion by Stannis Baratheon. Towards the end of his term, Slynt had tripled the number of the Gold Cloaks, making them 6,000 strong.[4] Despite this, the new watchmen were poorly trained, and many were drunks, brutes, or cravens who had joined on for the promise of bread. Also, as Kingslanders, few had love for House Lannister. When Stannis finally arrived and the Battle of the Blackwater began, the Watch constituted the bulk of the defending force. When King Joffrey withdrew from the walls, the men broke. Commander Bywater attempted to rally them, but was killed by his own men on the cusp of success.

After figuring casualties and desertions, the number of men available was down to 4,400.[5] Command then fell to Ser Addam Marbrand, Lord Tywin Lannister's daring cavalry captain. Despite problems with paying the men, Commander Marbrand is forbidden by Queen Cersei from dismissing any from service. Tywin orders Marbrand to break the knees of those who deserted in the battle. Ser Addam is relieved to leave his troubling duties to join Jaime Lannister in a mopping-up campaign in the Riverlands. In his place Cersei appoints the illiterate, craven hedge knight Osfryd Kettleblack, who is later removed by the small council after Cersei's arrest by the Faith. In his place they promote Humfrey Waters to lead the Gold Cloaks.

Known Commanders of the City Watch

References in A Song of Ice and Fire

  • During the Tourney of the Hand, the Gold Cloaks are hard pressed to keep the king's peace. Lord Eddard Stark commands Petyr Baelish to find funds to hire more watchmen, and lends 20 of his own Winterfell guardsmen to help for the tourney's duration.
  • When Eddard confronts Queen Cersei, Janos Slynt and 100 Gold Cloaks accompany and betray him.
  • After being dismissed from the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy kills the Gold Cloaks that Janos Slynt sends to arrest him.
  • On Cersei's orders, Slynt sends his right hand man, Allar Deem, to murder Barra, Robert's infant bastard daughter.
  • Five Gold Cloaks come upon Yoren's band of Night's Watch recruits with the intent of seizing Gendry, another royal bastard, but are driven away.
  • Along with 40 knights and squires including Hobber Redwyne, 300 Gold Cloaks escort Petyr Baelish to Bitterbridge on his mission to treat with the Tyrells.
  • During the Riot of King's Landing, Ser Jacelyn and a wedge of mounted lancers charge down the streets in an effort to defend the royal party, while numerous others form lines of spears before the smallfolk. In total, nine Gold Cloaks are slain and 40 wounded.
  • Tyrion sends Jacelyn Bywater to take Prince Tommen into custody at Rosby, confronting his sworn shield Boros Blount without bloodshed and seizing Rosby castle to hold him there.
  • When being brought to his trial, Tyrion is escorted by Addam Marbrand and his watchmen rather than the Kingsguard, most of whom testify against him.