The trailer for the season finale of Game of Thrones is finally out and things seem tense as Westeros braces for its biggest battle yet.
At least that seems to be the case for Dany and her newfound allies. In one of the scenes, Cersei smiles smugly as she prepares for the arrival of the Golden Company onboard the Greyjoy fleet.
In the trailer, we get a glimpse of a man with golden locks overseeing the ‘golden’ troops as they make way towards Kings Landing. Considering that the man has both his hands intact, we can rule Jamie Lannister out. However, the man could be Harry Strickland, the leader of the Golden Company.
We had a hint that Cersei was conjuring plans concerning the company in the previous season itself.
In season 7, Cersei had an innocuous conversation with the Iron Banker Tycho Nestoris, mentioning her desire to beef up her armies and navy, including making overtures to the Golden Company.
But who really are the Golden Company?
The Golden Company is a sellsword company based in Essos. They are one of the largest and likely the most skilled hired swords in the Free Cities.
In The Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Golden Company’s roots take place a century before the War of the Five Kings when House Blackfyre tried to seize the Iron Throne.
House Blackfyre was a younger cadet branch of House Targaryen founded by one of Aegon IV Targeryen’s bastard sons, Daemon Blackfyre. The first rebellion ended with Daemon’s death, but his sons and half-brother, Bittersteel fled into exile to the Free Cities in Essos.
When Bittersteel saw all the exiled lords and knights signing on with other sellsword companies and saw the support of House Blackfyre ebbing away, he created his own sellsword company – The Golden Company.
That way, the Blackfyres could at least maintain some sort of core fighting force in between their repeated attempts to overthrow the Targaryens. They gained experience from fighting in the petty wars of the Free Cities.
The company is composed mostly of Westerosi exiles, and sons of exiles.
Many of the core members are descended from the hundreds of Blackfyre supporters who fled across the Narrow Sea at the end of the First Blackfyre Rebellion. Over time their ranks were joined by men who ended up on the losing side of rebellions in Westeros.
At the time of the War of the Five Kings, the Golden Company was the largest and most disciplined sellsword company in the Free Cities.
Their forces consist of 10,000 men – 1,000 cavalries, 1,000 archers, and 8,000 infantry, as well as a number of war elephants.
Harry Strickland, the company’s military commander who we get a glimpse of in the trailer, was also born in exile.
His family has been one of the core members of the company for four generations. Initially, he was just the company’s paymaster. But after the death of the previous leader, he was made the new commander.
In the show, they were first mentioned in Season 4’s Breaker of Chains when Ser Davos suggested Stannis commission the company to launch another assault on King’s Landing after his army was decimated in the Battle of Blackwater.
They were mentioned again in Season 4 in Mockingbird when Daenerys reminded Ser Jorah that he fought with the company before pledging his sword to her brother Viserys.
However, their latest campaign seems conflicted. On one hand, they have a reputation of never having broken a contract, on the other, their company was founded to seize the Iron Throne. It’ll be interesting to see what these hired swords do in the show.