A Reign of Toads
The Citadel is where the maesters convene, study, and train new members, and it is also the residence of the archmaesters. House Hightower played an integral role in the foundation of the Citadel and continue to be strong patrons of learning. The Citadel is funded by taxes from Oldtown and payments from lords for the service of maesters.
The maesters are an order of scholars, healers, postmen, and scientists who are trained at a school called the Citadel. House Hightower was integral in the Citadel’s foundation, and continues to patronize the order. As advisers to the Westerosi nobility, the maesters have largely supplanted the Alchemists’ Guild. They are sometimes called “the knights of the mind.”
The maesters are scholars, scientists, learned advisors to the nobility, and occasionally pseudo-religious researchers in the occult. Males of any age may begin training as a maester; females are not permitted to study or join the order. Noble families in Westeros sometimes send their younger sons to the Citadel. A bastard may study at the Citadel and become a maester. The maesters, like the brothers of the Night’s Watch, are considered to be servants of Westeros and all its people and in theory have no political allegiance. After finishing his course of study, a maester is assigned to a castle, keep or other holding, and is loyal to the people of that place as a mentor, healer and adviser, regardless of changes in control of that holding. To this end a man who earns his chain is stripped of his family name and from that time on is known only by his title and first name. In practice some maesters hold over old allegiances and loyalties.
The Grand Maester is considered the senior member of the Order and serves as its representative to the King. He can only be made or unmade by the Conclave.1 He sits on the Small council and acts as the King’s adviser. The Grand Maester wears many interwoven maester chains to indicate his high office, but these do not reflect his true studies. Gems are woven into the chains.2
Pycelle has served in the office for over forty years, though his loyalties lie with House Lannister rather than the realm. His advanced age has slowed him down, and he often dozes off during small council meetings. He was thrown in the dungeons of the Red Keep by Tyrion Lannister, but Tywin Lannister recalled him to his duties when it appeared the Citadel was going to replace him with Maester Gormon, formerly of House Tyrell. After his imprisonment Cersei perceives him as a broken man, but in spite of his past failings in court intrigue, Pycelle successfully seizes control of King Tommen I and the council after Cersei’s arrest by the High Sparrow, offering Kevan Lannister the regency. As they attempt to fix Cersei’s follies, Pycelle and Kevan are both assassinated by Varys, the former Master of Whisperers.
The perceived “master” of any area of study is given a mask, ring, and rod and the title Archmaester in the corresponding metal to signify his expertise. For example, an archmaester who specializes in ravenry will have a mask, ring, and rod made of black iron. Archmaesters are the senior members of the Order and are given the right to sit on the Conclave. The Conclave is the governing body of the Citadel and is the same body that elects the Grand Maester. All the meetings of the Conclave are confidential in nature and conducted behind closed doors at the Citadel only.
Marwyn the Mage is the order’s leading researcher into the occult and magic. For his strange pursuits and gruff manner he is ostracized by others in the Citadel.
The Seneschal is chosen from among the archmaesters by lot. A new one is chosen each year. The Seneschal is tasked with the governance of the Citadel. Most archmaesters consider it a thankless task that takes them away from their true calling.