The Dance of the Dragons is the civil war depicted in House of the Dragon, and it consists of various skirmishes, campaigns, and battles. While some battles were shorter, brief, and completely bloodless, others were the very opposite.
An example of this is the bloodiest land battle to take place during the Dance of the Dragons, known as the Battle by the Lakeshore. This article will cover everything we know about this violent skirmish.
What was the Battle by the Lakeshore?
The Battle by the Lakeshore was a battle that took place along the God’s Eye, the largest lake in the Seven Kingdoms. It was fought between the allies of the Blacks and the Greens from various parts of Westeros. This battle is notable for having participants from the armies of House Lannister as well as allies of House Stark.
What was happening during the War?
When the civil war started, House Lannister supported the Greens. Tyland Lannister sat on Otto Hightower’s small council, and his twin, Lord Jason Lannister, pledged the forces of Casterly Rock to King Aegon II.
House Stark, on the other hand, pledged their forces to the blacks. Lord Cregan Stark of Winterfell made a pact with Lucerys Velaryon that solidified the bond between the two factions.
Lord Stark sent a large force of veteran warriors known as The Winter Wolves south to fight for the blacks. The Lord of Casterly Rock, Lord Jason Lannister, had died while fighting the Battle at the Red Fork.
The Lannister army, however, continued fighting under a new commander, Lord Humfrey Lefford. Lord Humfrey held the title of ‘Lord of the Golden Tooth,’ and his House was pledged to the Lannisters.
Lord Humfrey was a cautious and hesitant man, but he had no choice but to assume command of the Lannister army after Lord Jason passed. Since he suffered many wounds in battle, his soldiers carried him on a litter.
This slowed the advance of the Lannister army as they headed to join Prince Aemond’s forces at Harrenhal. When the army reached the western shores of the Gods Eye Lake, they were confronted by a large army of warriors from the ranks of the blacks.
The Winter Wolves sent by the Starks, as well as the armies of Lord Frey and Lord Blackwood, faced them. The Winter Wolves were led by Roddy the Ruin and were two thousand in number, all on horseback. The Frey army had eight hundred soldiers, whilst the Blackwood army led by Robb Rivers had three hundred archers.
Why did the Battle take place?
As the Lannister force faced this army, another threat came from the south. This was in the form of the Lords Bigglestone, Chambers, Perryn, and Ser Pate of Longleaf.
They arrived with survivors from previous battles in the war. Being wary, the Lannister army led by Lord Humfrey did not initiate battle with either but instead took up a defensive position at the lakeshore. He then attempted to send ravens to Harrenhal to contact Prince Aemond. Red Robb Rivers shot down these ravens before they could leave the area.
Meanwhile, the Riverlords arrived with their armies, providing even more reinforcements for the Blacks. These included Ser Garibald Grey, Lord Jon Charlton, and the young Lord Benjicot Blackwood, who was only twelve at the time.
What happened during the Battle?
The Lannister army was in a defensive position, and the Blacks realized they would face heavy losses if they assaulted them directly. At the same time, they could not simply wait to starve out the Lannisters. Prince Aemond could arrive at any moment with Vhagar if he noticed that communications had ceased for too long.
Thus, the Black commanders decided to rush the Lannister army while they still had a chance. At dawn, the Black army attacked. The Winter Wolves charged ahead of the army and suffered heavy losses against the Lannister spearmen.
The Blacks charged five times in total. Attacked from three different sides, the Lannister soldiers retreated into the God’s Eye Lake. Already at a disadvantage, they were now forced to fight for their lives while wading knee-deep in the lake’s waters.
Hundreds were cut down while attempting to escape, while hundreds more drowned amongst the reeds of the lake. By this time, the battle had descended into complete carnage. The losses on both sides were enormous, with bodies littering the water and the lakeshore.
The degree of the bloodshed was so great that many began to refer to the battle as Fishfeed. The Blacks lost their commanders, Lords Frey, Bigglestone, and Charlton. They also lost two-thirds of their northern soldiers.
Lord Humfrey, the aged commander of the Lannisters, died in the battle. Along with him, the Lords Swyft, Reyne, and the knights Clarent Crakehall and Emory Hill also died, signifying great losses for the Greens. The twelve-year-old Lord Benjicot Blackwood broke down into tears when he saw all the bloodshed.
The aftermath of the Battle by the Lakeshore
After this battle, the forces of the Lannisters were completely crushed. It left Casterly Rock almost defenseless, as only a skeleton army existed to defend the castle.
This was when the Lord of the Iron Islands, Lord Dalton Greyjoy, allied with Rhaenyra and the Blacks to seize the opportunity. The Ironborn plundered the coast of the Westerlands near Casterly Rock and sacked the port city of Lannisport.
Meanwhile, Criston Cole and Prince Aemond saw the great defeat they faced at Fishfeed and abandoned Harrenhal. Cole headed south to rally with Lord Ormund Hightower while Aemond waged guerilla warfare seated upon Vhagar’s back.
As Cole passed with his force through the Riverlands, the Blacks ambushed his army. They arranged the bodies of fallen soldiers from the Fishfeed battle in gruesome displays to frighten the Greens.
This caused many of Cole’s soldiers to desert their ranks on the spot out of fear. As he headed further with a depleting army, he clashed with the Riverlords and the Winter Wolves. Their climactic battle came to be known as the Butcher’s Ball.
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