Respect Ser Barristan Selmy Eddard Stark

Who was considered the best swordsman of all Westeros?

Or as I like to call him: Ser Arthur Dayyuum


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There is no doubt that Arthur was considered the finest swordsman in the last 100 years, if not ever.

From the world of ice and fire:

At five and ten, Ser Jaime Lannister was already a knight - an honor he had received from Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, whom many regarded as the most chivalrous warrior in the empire .
- The world of ice and fire

and

Prince Rhaegar's support came from the younger men at court, including Lord Jon Connington, Ser Myles Mooton of Maidenpool, and Ser Richard Lonmouth. The Dornishmen who had come to court with Princess Elijah were also in the prince's trust, in particular Prince Lewyn Martell, Elias uncle and a sworn brother of the Kingsguard. But the most formidable of all of Rhaegar's friends and allies in King's Landing was surely Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning .
- The world of ice and fire

and:

The swords of the morning are all famous in the seven kingdoms. There are boys who secretly dream of being the son of Starfall so that they can claim the famous sword and its title for themselves. Most famous was Ser Arthur Dayne, the deadliest of King Aerys II's Royal Guard.
- The world of ice and fire

Even Jaime Lannister notes about Arthur's reputation:

when Ser Arthur Dayne broke the Kingswood Brotherhood. He had saved Lord Sumner's life when Big Belly tried to bash his head in when the outlaw had escaped. And he had stood up to the smiling knight, even though it was Ser Arthur who killed him. What a fight it was and what an enemy. The smiling knight was mad, cruelty and chivalry were all mixed up, but he didn't know what fear meant. And Dayne with Dawn in hand. . . The outlaw's long sword had so many nicks at the end that Ser Arthur had stopped to fetch a new one. "It's your white sword that I want," said the robber knight when they started again, although by then he was bleeding from a dozen wounds. "Then you will have it, Ser", answered the sword of the morning and put an end to it.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Three - A Storm of Swords, Chapter Sixty-Seven (Jaime VIII).

and

"I learned from the White Bull and Barristan the Bold," snapped Jaime. "I learned from Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, from all five of you 1 with his left hand could have killed while he was with his right 2 took with a piss.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Three - A Storm of Swords, Chapter Sixty-Seven (Jaime VIII).

Listen, if you don't believe me or Jaime or Archmaester Yandel, then believe the words of our buddy Ned Stark:

[Bran]: "Was there someone who was the best?"
[Ned]: "The best knight I've ever seen was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have me killed the Tower of Joy] but for Howland Reed. "
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - A Game of Thrones, Chapter 21 (Bran III).


One caveat about being the "best": George RR Martin is intelligent enough to realize that there is no real "best" swordsman, or at least one who is by far the best. So this is all about reputation. In fact, he goes on to say:

[Interviewer]: Who would win a fight, Barristan Selmy or Arthur Dayne (in their prime)?
[Martin]: Dayne ... if he was armed with Dawn.
If both men had weapons of equal value, this could be a mistake.
- This is how Martin spoke: THE SWORD OF MORNING VS.BARRISTAN THE BRAVE .

And that also shows the importance of the tools the swordsman uses. Arthur had the advantage of literally having the best sword in all of Westeros, Dawn . For this reason, it is important to know that this is all based on the Look at based, no matter how sure I sounded before.

Honorable and historical mentions

  • Prince Aemon the Dragon Knight
    • This guy is literally made for songs, for real
    • With his possession of the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister, he was impressive
    • dead
  • Ser Barristan Selmy
    • Still feared and respected and revered by all, even in his "advanced" age
    • Has participated and won many tournaments, duels and battles
    • Undefeated
    • Alive
  • Ser Jaime Lannister
  • Ser Loras Tyrell
    • Well known, although not that great a swordsman
    • He was best known through tournaments
    • Said and turned out to be the best Jouster
    • Basically up here because it has a good reputation
    • Doubtfully alive and at least badly mutilated
  • Ser Gregor Clegane3
    • A machine that needs no introduction and therefore speaks to its reputation
    • Almost a moot point as to whether or not he's a good swordsman, his size, strength, and speed make him good enough to need an incredible fighter to embrace
    • Ends here on the list as he's not a really great fighter and has his "negative" reputation as a brute
    • Dead and lively
  • Prince Daemon Targaryen
    • He's one of my favorites among historical dragon princes
    • He wielded the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre and rode his kite (yes, a Mfing kite) Caraxes
    • This guy got bored of playing in King's Landing so he just decided to take over the Stepstones and crowned himself king there. You know, for the Lulz!
    • Known as
    • Not many people mention him or sing about him a lot, which lowers his reputation
    • Guys, during the 'Dance of Dragons' in his duel with Aemond Targaryen (and his Dragon Vhagar) jumped Daemon in midair from Caraxes on Vhagar and caught his brother in the eye. The crash killed both dragons and their riders!
  • Ser Duncan the Great
    • If he hadn't been Aegon V Targaryen's personal bodyguard, friend, and lord commander of his Kingsguard, Dunk would have basically no reputation (at least these days).
    • He was also known as the instigator of the latest Trial By Seven and his epic duel with and defeat against Ser Lyonel Baratheon "The Laughing Storm" 4 .
    • Dead and yet unbeaten
  • Ser Garlan Tyrell
  • Lady Brienne of Tarth
    • Her skills are unmatched yet, but she ends the list here as she has very little, if not no, reputation
    • With her Valyrian Steel sword Oathkeeper she has to tear apart some enemies

1. Those "five" were actually Ser Loras Tyrell, Ser Osmund Kettleblack, Ser Balon Swann, Ser Boros Blount, and Ser Meryn Trant.Not the best fighters ever, but definitely good enough to join Tommen's Kingsguard.

2. Arthur was right-handed.

3. I would bring Sandor Clegane here too, but he's not a knight so he has no reputation as a swordsman.We are sorry.

4. You thought Robert Baratheon was a tank?Get a load from this guy

Approaching DarknessFish

Your first quote does not address the question. Chivalry has nothing to do with skill.

Möoz

@ApproachingDarknessFish It speaks for its reputation. As I pointed out in the answer, it's not really your swordsmanship skill that just makes you so famous. Check out Loras who is a very good but not a legendary swordsman, but who is considered the most chivalrous because he is the best jouster.

muru

In this case, I don't know if I'm the best swordsman, but he's up there on the list of dumbest swordsmen.

Guran

One wonders, however, how Bronn would count among these knights. No doubt a great swordsman, though too smart to ever defeat a superior fighter in a fair fight.

Sekhemty

@ Mooz for clarifying what the "best" is, you got my question right: I was more interested in their reputation, which includes not only their "raw" skills, but also how much they were valued by other fellow swordsmen ; In response to ApproachingDarknessFish, chivalry has its place in making a name for yourself in this context.