Maester Cressen began serving the Baratheons at Storm’s End, and when Stannis became the Lord of Dragonstone, he moved with him to the home island of House Targaryen. However, the arrival of Melisandre, the red priestess of R’hllor, led Cressen to make a terrible decision that ended his life. As a maester of the Citadel, Cressen is an experienced healer with a vast knowledge of many topics. He felt ashamed of himself because he could not heal Shireen, Stannis’s daughter, of greyscale; this led to the little girl having a hideous face. With the guilt of not healing Shireen, Cressen tried to save Stannis from the corruption of his wife, Selyse, but he failed.
Maester Cressen Personal Details
- Name: Cressen.
- Title: Maester at Dragonstone.
- Year of Birth: 219 or 220 AC.
- Year of Death: 299 AC at Dragonstone.
- Allegiances: Citadel of Oldtown, House Baratheon, House Baratheon of Dragonstone.
- Culture: Andal.
- Religion: Faith of the Seven.
- Successor: Maester Pylos.
Appearance and Personality
Maester Cressen is a frail man with a slender frame and trembling hands. He has a bad hip from old age that makes him walk with difficulty. Due to his age, many people do not take him seriously, and Stannis fails to take his counsel against Melisandre. Although Cressen gets overlooked, he has a kind heart and dearly loves Stannis because he feels Stannis is the least-loved child in his family who had no one to care for him after his parent’s death.
Maester Cressen was born around 220 AC. After coming of age, he traveled to the Citadel in Oldtown, where he became a maester. Upon becoming a maester, Cressen traveled to Storm’s End to serve. For many years, he was the castle’s maester and took a liking to Stannis Baratheon, the second son of Lord Steffon Baratheon and Lady Cassana Estermont. On orders from King Aerys, his cousin, Steffon and his wife went on a voyage to the Free city of Volantis to find a bride of old Valyrian blood for Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. However, the mission was unsuccessful. While returning home, Lord Steffon died in a shipwreck in a storm in Shipbreaker Bay.
After the shipwreck, maester Cressen identified the bodies and found Patchface, a fool that had washed ashore. Though Ser Harbert, the castellan of Storm’s End, suggested that Patchface should die, Cressen defended him, and his life got spared.
When Robert rebelled against the Iron Throne, a war began throughout the Seven Kingdoms. During the rebellion, Cressen was at Storm’s End when the castle got besieged by the Tyrells. As the war lingered, Stannis and his men faced starvation. When some knights got caught trying to leave to surrender, Stannis ordered they should get hurled at the besiegers.
However, Cressen convinces him to keep the men as potential food. Later, a smuggler, Davos, sneaks in food to Stannis and his men; this makes them survive long enough for Lord Eddard Stark to lift the siege. After Robert killed Rhaegar, he became King, and Cressen attended Davos’s knighting ceremony.
The Rise of King Robert
After Robert became King, he ordered Stannis to attack the Targaryen fleet at Dragonstone. However, before Stannis set sail, the fleet got destroyed in a storm, and Daenerys Targaryen fled Westeros with her brother. Robert then made Stannis Lord of Dragonstone and Renly Lord of Storm’s End. Though this angered Stannis, he obeyed his brother and moved. Cressen moved to Dragonstone with Stannis, and when he fell ill, maester Pylos got sent as a replacement.
Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire
A Clash of Kings
When Shireen Baratheon and her friend, Patchface, go to meet maester Cressen, he receives a white raven from the Citadel announcing the end of summer. Cressen helps Shireen with her fear of getting eaten by a dragon. He tells her about the Red Comet that overshadows Westeros and Essos.
With Robert Baratheon dead, his brother, Lord Stannis Baratheon, declares himself King and sends a message to the lord of the storm lands asking for their support. They refuse to back him, and when Cressen advises Stannis to ally with Robb Stark, the King in the North, he rejects his advice, telling him that Robb committed treason. When Selyse, Stannis’s wife, tells him that Renly will die and advises him to support Melisandre, Cressen fears the red priestess will make Stannis commit fratricide and plans to kill her.
Though Stannis asks maester Pylos to let Cressen rest, he insists on attending the feast Stannis held. Cressen bumps into Patchface, and Selyse mocks him with a riddle. She calls him a clever fool and foolish wise man and crowns him with Patchface’s belled helm.
During the event, Cressen puts the strangler, a poison, in a cup of wine and makes a toast to Melisandre. He gives her the cup to drink. When she does, nothing happens to her. Melisandre hands the cup to Cressen to drink, and when he does, he dies from the poison; this makes Davos believe Melisandre used magic.
After Cressen’s death, Davos fears that Melisandre cannot get killed by a sword or any weapon. Later, Stannis admits he never wanted Cressen to die as he was the only person that has ever shown him, love.
Appearance in Adaptation
In HBO’s tv series Game of Thrones, Cressen got portrayed by Oliver Ford Davies. He appeared in season 2 and got killed by the poison he tried to use to end Melisandre. When Cressen offers her the cup with poisoned wine, she smiles and drinks from it. Cressen begins bleeding, but Melisandre remains unhurt.
Maester Cressen: The Kind-Hearted Man
As a POV character in the prologue of ‘A Clash of Kings,’ Cressen is one of the kindest people in A Song of Ice and Fire. He deeply cared for Stannis Baratheon and loved him even though he never received love. Even though he got mocked, Cressen tried to help the man he considered a son. He even died for him; this makes him not just kind but super loyal.
Why did the poison kill maester Cressen and not Melisandre?
Melisandre did not die from getting poisoned because she either had enough magical powers to shield her against it or because she had foreseen it and taken precautionary measures to prevent any damage to herself.
Why did Stannis let Cressen die?
Stannis did not let Cressen die. Though he did not listen to the old maester, he cared for him. After his death, Stannis admitted that he never wanted him to die.
Did Cressen hate Stannis?
No. Cressen loved Stannis like the son he never had. When Stannis was growing up, he acted differently from his siblings and rarely smiled; this made Cressen get close to him as the maester tried helping out.
Should Stannis have followed Cressen’s advice?
Yes. Cressen was advising Stannis because he did not want him to commit fratricide. Though Renly was contending for King, Stannis did not want to kill him.