Can anyone enter as a student at the Citadel ? Or must one be recommended by Lords or a powerful institution?

  • Aemon Targaryen was a son of a King, so the Citadel would let him access without questioning.

  • Samwell Tarly was sent by Lord Commander Jon Snow, from the Night's Watch.

  • Pate, a novice of the Citadel. A common born but it is not known how he entered the Citadel. We can notice that he is not a good student, but has not been fired.

I don't remember how the other Maesters were recruited, if they are always relatives of Lords, Kings... Can any lowborn commoner just "knock the door", and enter the Citadel?

  • we have Pate. He is common born and a student at Citadel.
    – Aegon
    Nov 21, 2016 at 14:24
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    @Aegon, ok, but how ? Do we know how can one candidate ?
    – Bebs V
    Nov 21, 2016 at 14:25
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    Nopes. We don't know how people are let in. Aemon was sent by his grandfather King Daeron II. Sam was sent by LC of NW and had a proper letter in this regard. Plus Maesters give up their family names anyways so it's kinda hard to figure out which ones are nobles and and which ones are common born unless explicity stated as such
    – Aegon
    Nov 21, 2016 at 14:27
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    There is no Pate, only Jaqen...
    – Skooba
    Nov 21, 2016 at 15:07
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    Many novices seem to do more work than studying, and don't progress. My reading of it is that (possibly like real medieval universities?) it's closer to a monastery than a modern university - anyone can join, but unless you have something to warrant special treatment (well-connected family, a letter from an authority, cash, or outstanding ability and charm), you'll scrub more floors than you'll read books. Like, say, Lorcas, who works as a gatekeeper, "has been an acolyte for fifty years, and hates novices, particularly novices of noble birth" Nov 21, 2016 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


When Sam first arrives at the Citadel he is greeted by an acolyte named Lorcas. Sam is told to sit and wait for the Seneschal. Sam expects this to a be short wait, but after a few hours inquires again and is told to wait. At this time Sam is approached by another acolyte, Alleras, who informs Sam that he must bribe Lorcas with a penny.

"A penny will serve. For a silver stag Lorcas will carry you up to Seneschal on his back. He has been fifty years an acolyte. He hates novices, particularly novices of noble birth." Alleras to Samwell Tarly, A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45

Alleras specifically says "of noble birth". To me this would imply that novices are accepted from any descent, noble or common.

Even the founding of the Citadel is a bit of a mystery to modern Maesters. From The World of Ice & Fire we find this excerpt in the "Oldtown" chapter.

The origins of the Citadel are almost as mysterious as those of the Hightower itself. Most credit its founding to the second son of Uthor of the High Tower, Prince Peremore the Twisted. A sickly boy, born with a withered arm and twisted back, Peremore was bedridden for much of his short life but had an insatiable curiosity about the world beyond his window, so he turned to wise men, teachers, priests, healers, and singers, along with a certain number of wizards, alchemists, and sorcerers. It is said the prince had no greater pleasure in life than listening to these scholars argue with one another. When Peremore died, his brother King Urrigon bequeathed a large tract of land beside the Honeywine to "Peremore's pets," that they might establish themselves and continue teaching, learning, and questing after truth. And so they did.

It seems what were the original Maester, even though not that by name yet, were from all walks of life and from all different places. Which seems to be confirmed a few paragraphs later:

Thousands of years before the first sept opened its doors, the city had been home to the Citadel, where boys and young men from all over Westeros came to study, learn, and forge their chains as maesters. No greater seat of knowledge exists anywhere in the world.

While this does not explicting state whether the recruits are noble or common, I believe there is enough context to sumize that they were from both common and noble houses.

This also implies that the Citadel may not have had to do much "recruiting". It seems the Citadel was famous and respected enough that students would willingly seek out and come to join the order.

  • 2
    Good point, it hadn't even occurred to me that that line proves there are non-noble novices! Another relevant one is "Lazy" Leo Tyrell, who I think is the only novice described as having a surname and rich clothes, and seems to act superior ("The Citadel is not what it was. They will take anything these days") and get special treatment despite his poor ability (Alleras: "You shame the Citadel by being one of us", Leo: "I know") presumably on account of his nobility, despite being only from a minor branch of the Tyrells Nov 21, 2016 at 15:33
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    So the only requirement is to be a male.
    – Bebs V
    Nov 21, 2016 at 19:02
  • @Bebs Yes, all Maesters are male.
    – Skooba
    Nov 21, 2016 at 21:21
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    @Bebs Or rather, the only requirement is to ensure everyone else thinks you're male (possible mystery spoiler) Nov 22, 2016 at 9:39
  • @user568458, sure ;-)
    – Bebs V
    Nov 22, 2016 at 9:41

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