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Everything you need to know about the Butcher’s Ball from Dance of the Dragons

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The battles during the Dance of the Dragons caused the death of prominent members of the Targaryen household. None more so than the Butcher’s Ball, where one of the most important players from House of the Dragon met their end after a long and arduous struggle. This article will explain everything we know about The Butcher’s Ball.

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What happened before the Butcher’s Ball?

criston-aemond

Credits: HBO

One of the most impactful battles that took place during the Dance of the Dragons was the Battle of Rook’s Rest. Though Aemond emerged from the battle unscathed, his brother was not as lucky.

King Aegon II suffered grievous burns and injuries, which plagued him throughout his lifetime. His dragon, Sunfyre, had an injured wing and wounds all over its body.

As the King was in such intense pain and unable to perform his royal duties, Prince Aemond was installed as the regent. He commandeered the war against their half-sister Rhaenyra Targaryen and the Blacks.

Prince Daemon Targaryen wasted no time in pushing his assault onto mainland Westeros. Emerging from his base on Dragonstone, he decided to capture the castle of Harrenhal to use as a rallying point.

Upon hearing that Daemon had taken Harrenhal, Aemond decided to respond with aggression. He set forth from King’s Landing with a huge force of men, numbering 4,000 in total.

He was accompanied by the Hand of the King, Ser Criston Cole. In doing so, he took with him the entire strength of King’s Landing’s army, leaving the city with nothing but a skeleton defense.

Having anticipated this, Prince Daemon responded as soon as he got words from his spies in the city that Aemond had departed. Flying atop Caraxes, he joined up with Rhaenyra and their dragonriders, who flew alongside the entire Velaryon fleet. Together, the combined force captured the city of King’s Landing.

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Why did the Butcher’s Ball take place?

criston-butchers-ball

Credits: HBO

After their commander, Prince Daemon, flew to take King’s Landing, the Blacks at Harrenhal did not wait there any longer. Abandoning the castle to avoid Prince Aemond’s army, they instead moved west, where the forces of the Greens were progressing.

The Blacks then annihilated the Greens’ army during the Battle at the Lakeshore. Though they were unaware of the developments, Aemond and Cole’s army was now trapped.

The main reason the Blacks did not want to meet the Greens’ army in open battle was that they had more men and the ancient dragon Vhagar. Aemond did not fly ahead to scout on Vhagar but stayed with the army.

He wrongly expected Daemon and Caraxes to attack them. Therefore, by the time word reached them of the developments, it was too late for them to do anything. At this point, Aemond and Cole had a disagreement about the next course of action.

Prince Aemond flew into an intense rage after learning that King’s Landing had fallen. Holding the Riverlords accountable, he sat upon Vhagar and proceeded to set the Riverlands ablaze in his wrath.

Cole immediately marched south to join Prince Daeron and Lord Ormund Hightower. His fortunes turned for the worst as he marched through the Riverlands with around 3,600 men. The Blacks began to ambush his army and burn their own fields to deny the army any provisions.

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What happened during the Butcher’s Ball?

Credits: Hristo Chukov

The Blacks used corpses from The Battle at the Lakeshore to frighten Cole’sarmy. As a result, many of his men deserted him and joined the blacks. One of the members of the Blacks’ army was Black Trombo, a Myrish sellsword.

Having once been a mummer, he disguised himself and his troops as corpses, taking Cole’s army by surprise as they ambushed them. Severely weakened and with a dwindling army, Cole marched towards the Blackwater Rush, one of the major rivers of Westeros.

What he did not know was that he was walking into an ambush. At a stony ridge south of the Gods Eye Lake, Cole’s army found themselves outnumbered. They were surrounded by an army of the Blacks, consisting of men from the Riverlands and Northmen.

Realizing his hopeless position, Criston Cole attempted to parley with the black commanders. Among them were Roddy the Ruin, Ser Garibald Grey, and Ser Pate of Longleaf. Criston offered to surrender, but all three commanders refused his request.

With no other choice, Criston Cole, one of the most skilled knights in the land, prepared to fight all three commanders at once. However, before the fight even began, he was shot down by arrows loosed by Red Robb Rivers, the Bowman of Raventree.

With Ser Criston dead, Roddy the Ruin charged the vanguard to proceed and begin the assault. The combined forces of the river knights and The Winter Wolves then massacred the Green army.

 
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Hundreds of the green soldiers perished as they attempted to escape from the ridge. When the battle was over, Ser Garibald remarked that it was closer to butchery than actual battle. Due to this remark, the battle henceforth came to be known as the Butcher’s Ball.

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