I recently noticed that in trial by combat one can yield.

[A trial by combat] ends when either party yields or is killed...

In Tyrion's first trial by combat, Bronn versus Ser Vardis it was clear that Vardis was losing and he seemed to be aware of that (in the show at least, I don't remember if the book make it obvious that Ser Vardis is aware that he his losing). It also seems that Bronn would accept the yielding because he waits a few seconds before giving the deadly stab.

Why didn't Vardis Egen yield?

  • 6
    same in the book and in the tv show. It is clear that Bronn is the winner. as to why?? that is hard to answer. none of us are in the head of that knight. Pride mostly (as he is an anointed knight and to loose to a "mere" peasant would be unthinkable. better to die!) but again as I said none of us can know the reason.
    – Cherubel
    Feb 16, 2017 at 14:39
  • 3
    He probably would have been pushed out the moon door for yielding as well....
    – Skooba
    Feb 16, 2017 at 14:42
  • 7
    It's hard to say as we don't see the fight from his POV and obviously he's not alive to explain why afterwards. However, a repeated theme throughout the story is that of men dying pointless deaths over their honour. Ser Vardis is old by the standards of knights, he has served as the loyal right hand to the former Lord of the Vale for many years. He's aware that he doesn't have many active years left and the new Lord is a weak child, and on top of that he's using his Lord's blade. Almost certainly his honour is what prevents him yielding, he'd rather die than live with the shame of the loss.
    – delinear
    Feb 16, 2017 at 14:43
  • 28
    If I remember right there's a moment in the show (I can't access video currently else I'd link to it and write a proper answer) where Bronn pauses before killing Vardis and looks to Lysa (not Vardis) like he's expecting her to call an end to the trial to spare her champion. Cat also looks to her, expecting her to do the same; Lysa just turns away; Bronn shrugs, and kills him; Cat looks disgusted with her. To me it looked implied that the accuser/accused can yield, but their champion can't (certainly, can't honourably) - and Lysa was too cold/stubborn to yield Feb 16, 2017 at 15:01
  • 17
    I've got a feeling there's something in The Hedge Knight that backs up the idea that it's only the accused or accuser who can yield and end a trial, not their champions (but I don't have it to hand). It would make sense - a champion yielding would be like someone's lawyer in a real-life trial saying "Actually, screw this guy, he says he's not guilty but I can't win this case, I'll just change the plea to Guilty and then let's all go home early" Feb 16, 2017 at 17:45

2 Answers 2


Ser Vardis Egen was the captain of Jon Arryn’s household guard, an honorable position. Multiple reasons forced Ser Vardis Egen to fight or die at the hands of Bronn, some of these are:

Honor of representing the House Arryn:

Ser Vardis was selected over other knights who wanted to fight Tyrion Lannister.

Lady Lysa raised a hand for silence. “I thank you, my lords, as I know my son would thank you if he were among us. No men in the Seven Kingdoms are as bold and true as the knights of the Vale. Would that I could grant you all this honor. Yet I can choose only one.” She gestured. “Ser Vardis Egen, you were ever my lord husband’s good right hand. You shall be our champion.”

A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Cateyln

Bronn was a sellsword:

Sellswords are not respected by Knights. It would have been disrespectful/insulting for Ser Vardis to surrender to a sellsword.

Ser Morton Waynwood said. “Ser Vardis is a knight, sweet lady. This other fellow, well, his sort are all cowards at heart. Useful enough in a battle, with thousands of their fellows around them, but stand them up alone and the manhood leaks right out of them.”

A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Cateyln

Ser Vardis was fighting with Jon Arryn's sword:

Lysa had given Jon Arryn's sword to Ser Vardis. It was considered an honor to the old knight.

Ser Vardis held out a gauntleted hand, and his squire placed a handsome double-edged longsword in his grasp. The blade was engraved with a delicate silver tracery of a mountain sky; its pommel was a falcon’s head, its crossguard fashioned into the shape of wings. “I had that sword crafted for Jon in King’s Landing,”

"I thought it only fitting that our champion avenge Jon with his own blade."

A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Cateyln

Loyalty to Lady Lysa:

Even when most knights realized Ser Vardis was in trouble, Lady Lysa commanded him to fight on and he fought.

Blind with arrogance as they were, even the knights and lords of the Vale could see what was happening below them, yet her sister could not. “Enough, Ser Vardis!” Lady Lysa called down. “Finish him now, my baby is growing tired.”

And it must be said of Ser Vardis Egen that he was true to his lady’s command, even to the last. One moment he was reeling backward, half-crouched behind his scarred shield; the next he charged. The sudden bull rush caught Bronn off balance.

A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Cateyln

  • 4
    One thing missing, the personal loyalty of Ser Vardis. He was down on his knees when Lysa shouted the command to finish the sellsword and despite his injuries Ser Vardis got up and attacked Bronn. That shows his personal loyalty. But +1 in any case
    – Aegon
    Feb 17, 2017 at 6:46
  • Yes. I will add that
    – Vishvesh
    Feb 17, 2017 at 9:05

Pride and ego

A constant theme in the Game of Thrones world (books and movie) is GRR Martin's taking a poke (to the point of deconstruction) at chivalry, particularly the conceit that men of arms/knights indulge in combat with honor foremost.

Early on, Sandor Clegane makes points (in the first book) about not being a Knight. He simply fights well and kills well. Bronn makes similar observations to Tyrion, and is cut from a similar cloth to Clegane. This core behavior puts him into sharp contrasts to Ser Vardis who is fighting on behalf of the Lady Arryn.

Ser Vardis has got to live with the results

This includes a bit of inference, but given that he has promised to the Lady Arryn (and her fickle/idiot son) to be their champion, his price of failure is as likely to be severe, given the ego stakes that they have in the outcome. If he yields, he's bound to lose standing with the Lady, the Court, and the idiot son. He's put his rep at stake, and in GoT world, for knights rep/life are tied together.

As the narrative paints it: by underestimating the non-knight (Bronn), Ser Vardis set himself up for a lose/lose situation.

  • 1
    While the pride part is correct, I disagree with the Moondoor assumption. Lysa isn't that mad. Ser Vardis is an influential figure of Arryn court and son of a powerful House. Lysa won't be able to throw him outside the moondoor even if she wanted to which she wouldn't have done as Ser Vardis was loyal to a fault and others Lords would never have allowed the regent lady to do that to an aristocrat for no reason. Plus if Egen Lost, that would be judgement of the gods. Disputing that would cause issues with the faith for Lysa.
    – Aegon
    Feb 17, 2017 at 13:54
  • @Aegon OK, fair point, I edited that. Feb 17, 2017 at 14:07

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