A hedge knight is a wandering knight who is so poor that he has no belongings, land, or affiliation to any lord or noble. The term got coined because most of them sleep under hedges and wander throughout Westeros due to their inability to secure a stable income. Before becoming the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Duncan, also called Dunk, was a squire to Ser Arlan of Pennytree. After his master’s death, he took on an emblem and traveled to Ashford Meadow for a tourney.
The lifestyle of a hedge knight is wildly different from other knights in the Seven Kingdoms. When a soldier gets knighted for bravery in battle, he could either get promoted to a position of high authority or get discarded with no master.
If he gets neglected, he has to make a living or actively seek out a lord willing to place him under his service; this is how hedge knights got made. Most wander throughout Westeros, hoping to join the royal processions on the King. They must have remarkable skills and show chivalry and bravery to stand out. The easiest way for hedge knights to make it is through tourneys; this is why they swarm events and participate in melees and jousting.
Though many try to be good, hedge knights have a terrible reputation for being unfavorable and having no fortune. Throughout Westeros, many people see them as nothing but potential mercenaries, armed robbers, maniacs, and less scrupulous hedge knights who use their martial training for banditry and pillaging after being unable to make a stable income for themselves.
After Aegon I Targaryen took over Westeros, he created the Iron Throne, and House Targaryen became the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. In 10 AC, the order of the Kingsguards got founded, and Ser Humfrey the Mummer, a hedge knight, was chosen as one of the first men to become a member of the Kingsguard. His wit and prowess with sword and shield made him stand out.
The Tales of Dunk and Egg
Before A Song of Ice and Fire, the prequel comic book series, the Tales of Dunk and Egg, tells the story of the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall. The novellas got split; The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, and The Mystery Knight. Upon the death of Ser Arlan of Pennytree, his young squire Dunk took on his suit of armor and traveled to partake in the tourney at Ashford Meadow.
Along the way, Dunk met a young boy, Egg, and took him under his service. At the tourney, Prince Baelor Targaryen vouches for Dunk when he cannot show proof of his knighthood.
When Dunk gets in a fight with Prince Alerion, he gets ordered to get seven champions to help him in the Trial of the Seven. After gathering his fighters, including Prince Baelor, the trial begins, and while it almost ends in Alerion’s favor, Dunk uses his size to force the prince into submission.
Prince Baelor dies from the fight, and King Maekar offers Dunk a position in his house to train Aegon. The knight instead asks to travel with Aegon, and when the King agrees, the duo travel to Dorne.
Hedge Knight Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
When Lord Jon Arryn dies suddenly, King Robert Baratheon travels to Winterfell to ask Lord Eddard Stark to become the Hand of the King. After agreeing to become the Hand, Eddard follows Robert back to King’s Landing. On holding the first small council meeting, Eddard learns that the Iron Throne is in severe debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos and Lord Tywin Lannister of Casterly Rock. To mitigate further spending, Ned tries to stop Robert from hosting the Hand’s tourney, but the King refuses.
At the tourney, many hedge knights show up to get favor in the sight of the King. The jousting ceremony begins, and after many fights, Sandor Clegane wins. Later, Robert gets killed by his wife, Queen Cersei, after Lord Eddard discovers that her children are illegitimate and got fathered by Ser Jaime Lannister.
Appearance in Adaptation
In HBO’s Game of Thrones, there was barely any mention of hedge knights. However, the most popular of them was Ser Duncan the Tall. It got revealed that Lord Petyr Baelish’s grandfather was a hedge knight who owned a small portion of land in the Fingers.
Hedge Knights: True Knights
According to Ser Duncan, Hegde Knights are true knights. As they are not attached to any lord or King, they serve people they believe in; this is why they are closer to the true goal of knighthood. Though there is no lie in Dunk’s philosophy, hedge knights are prone to dishonesty and are likely to be the most disloyal of any knight because they will place themselves over any master.
Why did Ser Duncan call Hedge Knights the real knights?
Ser Duncan saw Hedge Knights as the greatest knights because they were loyal to their vows and did not blindly follow any lord or King. As most knights obeyed their masters without questioning, Duncan believed that a Hedge Knight stood for protecting the innocent.
What is the difference between a Hedge Knight and a sellsword?
A Hedge Knight is a knight of the Seven Kingdoms that travels from one place to another seeking employment from a lord or King. However, a sellsword is a skilled fighter who enters a battle for money. A sellsword did not need to be a knight.
Who was the best Hedge Knight in A Song of Ice and Fire?
The best knights in Westeros were Ser Duncan the Tall and Ser Humfrey the Mummer. Duncan became the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, while Ser Humfrey the Mummer was one of the first men to become a member of the Kingsguard.
Why did Game of Thrones not feature Hedge Knights that much?
Hedge Knights rarely got mentioned in A Song of Ice and Fire, so it is only fair that they rarely got mentioned.