Please see this question to build context. This question is to comply with community suggestions and to split up a large question into different part.

Following up on what's already stated on the main question:

Since all the tourneys we know about have featured almost exclusively anointed knights, I will assume that Knighthood is required to be part of a Tourney. (Yes I know Lyanna Stark fought in Tourney of Harrenhal despite not being a Knight but she did so by disguising as Knight of the Laughing tree. Barristan the Bold did it as a boy but he was also disguised as a mystery knight). The wiki however suggests that some tourneys are exclusively for knights like Tourney at Ashford and Tourney at lord butterwell's marriage but that decision lies with the game master and lord hosting it I suppose.


  1. ASOIAF wiki says some tournaments are exclusive for knights. Does that mean a non-knighted person can appear in tilts if there is no such restriction? (I do recall something about Northmen from Winterfell fighting in Hand's Tourney lists but at least one of them was to be a knight, implying that he was a squire or near enough). Archery is open for all as we know, since Anguy the Marcher won archery tourney at KL.

  2. Can a non-Knight appear in Melee? We have Thoros of Myr fighting in Melees with burning swords. Since he is not of the faith, we can assume he wasn't a knight. But was he? If Ser Jorah was knighted for his role in siege of Pyke despite being follower of the old gods, why not knight Thoros who was the first man through breach in Pyke? And then he was part of Brotherhood without Banners in which everyone was knighted (Which does not necessarily mean anything as he never rode in a tourney after he left KL on Lord Eddard's behest). Do we have any evidence supporting knighthood or lack of thereof of Thoros? Or any other example of non-Knighted person competing in a melee?

  • Have you read The Hedge Knight? It includes a first-person account of a man dealing with the bureaucracy of trying to sign on to the lists at a tourney when his knightly status is uncertain. The Mystery Knight also has another in different (more complicated) circumstances. Bascially, like everything in ASOIAF, it's based on implied consensus of the powerful ("power resides where..." yadda yadda), every rule has a little flexibilty if the right people vouch for you. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:52
  • @user568458 Yup I have. See the last GRRM quote in my answer below and see The Reach is the heart of the chivalric tradition in the Seven Kingdoms, the place where knighthood is most universally esteemed, and therefore the place where the master of the games is most likely to devise and apply stringent rules. Ashford is in the Reach which is why they most jealously guard knightly privileges.
    – Aegon
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:55
  • Also I have cited Tourney at Ashford as an example here :P
    – Aegon
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:56
  • I'm not surprised that you have, just checking before writing an answer since you link to the wiki and don't mention the stories or characters directly. I'd have thought your question was answered by the cases of Dunc (questionable status and lack of evidence overlooked when the right Targ vouches for him) and Ball (questionable status and lack of evidence overlooked because he's seemingly in the right faction and the consensus among this crowd is that he's amusing not problematic)? Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 10:00
  • @user568458 I did not believe the stories were needed here as the question is about general rules not specific cases. I don't think Baelor's endorsement of Dunc or Glendon Flowers answer this question because Baelor endorsed Duncan after asking him pointed questions to ascertain his links to Ser Arlan of Pennytree (Which kinda proved he was the man's squire and Baelor thought it was plausible the old man knighted him) and Glendon Flowers' knighthood was confirmed right when he was trying to enter the wedding feast. So he did not ride the lists with doubtful status.
    – Aegon
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 10:05

2 Answers 2


After waiting for almost a month, I will begin this Self-answer with a statement from GRRM, which is quoted from So Spake Martin, entry for April 29, 1999:

It was not so much a question of some king changing the rules, as you venture, as it was of the rules themselves being very variable. Medieval tourneys were never governed by a single set of rules or rulesmakers, like NCAA football or major league baseball or even (shudder) boxing. In essence, every tourney had its own rules. The lord or king who was staging the event would usually choose the format of the tournament in the broadest sense, and then appoint a "master of the games" to run the event and make all the "fine print" decisions.

In the same statement, Martin said this about Tourney of Kingslanding by Robert Baratheon:

Of the ones so far... well, the Hand's tourney at King's Landing was put together hastily, on Robert's whim, and so was relatively small, which allowed the single-elimination tilting format, which your opponents are chosen simply by the luck of the draw, and only one champion remains at the end. I also used the free-for-all last-man-standing style of melee, which did not exist in the real world so far as I know (melees were mock battles fought by teams), but which I thought offered juicy possibilities for a fantasy book.

Now to answer the question:

  1. If there are no restrictions set by Game masters of the tourney, Non-knights can joust in the Tourney. Jory Cassel was not a knight but he jousted in Hand's Tourney in Kingslanding. He defeated Horas Redwyne and of one the Freys before losing his seat to lance of Lothor Brune, who wasn't a knight either. (Lothor was later knighted for valor in Battle of Blackwater bay). So it is clear that Non-Knights can sign up for jousting if the rules do not explicitly forbid them to.
  2. Melees can also vary in rules. Melees can be fought in "Last-man-standing" format or between teams of Knights fighting for victory. But there is precedent of a person who wasn't a knight but still fought in melee at a tourney. That character was Prince Maegor Targaryen (Later King Maegor the Cruel) who at age of 13 fought in a Melee and defeated adult Knights. Maegor was knighted three years later at age of sixteen by his father King Aegon the Conqueror, so it is evident that when he fought in the Melee he was not a Knight. In the World of Ice and Fire, there is mention of a Melee at Last Hearth in North. Since Northmen usually do not have Knights, it is likely that most of the participants were not knights. Sadly I could not find anything on Knighthood status of Thoros of Myr.

I will end this answer with another Quote from GRRM:

As to your questions regarding the participation or non-participation of sellswords, squires, freeriders and the like, again, I don't see that as the difference as being chronological so much as geographic. The Reach is the heart of the chivalric tradition in the Seven Kingdoms, the place where knighthood is most universally esteemed, and therefore the place where the master of the games is most likely to devise and apply stringent rules. In Dorne and Storm's End and the riverlands and the Vale, things are perhaps a little less strict, and north of the Neck where the old gods still reign and knights are rare, they make up their own rules as they go along.


Brandon Stark (Son of Lord Rickard Stark) fought in the tourney at Harrenhal during the year of the false spring where he was unhorsed by Prince Rhaegar if I am not mistaken. I can not directly cite this at the moment but I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm wrong.

  • When you can provide a quote, please edit it into your answer. This will make for a better post. :)
    – Jenayah
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 18:34

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