The Kingsguard was founded by Aegon the Conqueror of House Targaryen as an elite bodyguard to protect the crown and anyone of royal descent. A poetic name often used for them is “the White Swords”, or “the White Cloaks”. Historically composed of seven knights sworn to a lifetime of service, members are to serve unto death despite age or any physical or mental ailments. During their tenure in the Kingsguard, members are not allowed to hold lands, sire children, marry, or have any worldly allegiance except to their monarch. Some of the greatest warriors, battle commanders, swordsmen, and famous historical figures in the history of Westeros have served in the Kingsguard, including members of House Targaryen itself.
The knights of the guard wear all white capes, carry plain white shields and with some occasional exceptions wear little or no ornamentation or sigils on their white armor. This plain but striking attire leads credence to their role of being seen and not heard until their advice is asked. Discretion and wisdom are often as important skills as martial ability being as they are expected to be with their King or Queen at all times, privy to all their secrets, plans and every aspect of their personal lives.
The Kingsguard has continuously existed since the Conquest. Its uninterrupted history is recorded in the White Book, a volume maintained by the head of the Kingsguard, known as the Lord Commander, and stored in the Round Room of the White Sword Tower, a four story tower built into one of the walls of the Red Keep of King’s Landing. In the White Book, officially known as the Book of the Brothers, each member of the Kingsguard is given one page on which his personal history and a record of his deeds are written. Because of its status as the royal bodyguard and the many remarkable figures who have been members, the Kingsguard has been involved in many major historical events in Westeros.
Upon taking the throne after the War of the Usurper, Robert Baratheon chose to continue the tradition of the Kingsguard. He went as far as to elevate a member of Aerys II’s Kingsguard, Barristan Selmy, to the position of Lord Commander. Selmy held that position until he was dismissed in an unprecedented move by Robert’s heir, Joffrey. After Selmy’s dismissal, the last of the remaining knights from Aerys II’s Kingsguard, Joffrey’s uncle Jaime Lannister, was appointed Lord Commander.