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Welcome To The Bitchery

This is the third piece in a series comparing historical figures to characters in A Song Of Ice and Fire.

Illustration for article titled Two Dogs: Sandor Clegane and Bertrand Du Guesclin

Previous incarnations include Cersei Lannister and Margaret of Anjou, and Sansa Stark and Elizabeth of York. The next chapter in this series will focus on everyone's favorite character without a POV, Sandor Clegane, and Bertrand Du Guesclin.

Bertrand Du Guesclin is a national French hero, and was a stellar commander for the French military during the early part of The Hundred Years War. Guesclin has several other traits that are shared with Sandor.


First, Guesclin was known as being unbelievably ugly. We all know that Sandor too isn't the most aesthetically pleasing man, thanks to the gruesome facial burns that he obtained as a child by the hands of his brother, Gregor. Guesclin, because of his appearance, was rejected by his mother, the beautiful Jeanne de Malemains, and was unloved for the majority of his childhood. One of ten children, Guesclin was constantly overshadowed by his siblings. Similar events occurred in the childhood of Sandor Clegane, with a darker turn. The focus of Sandor's father, (who remains unnamed in the series) was constantly on Gregor, so much so that he blamed the burns on Sandor's face on a bedding fire. The burns actually occurred because twelve-year old Gregor placed seven-year old Sandor's face to the side of a hot brazier, as punishment for picking up a toy that Gregor discarded. Although Bertrand and Sandor both grew up unloved, they eventually both became tenacious fighters, and renowned for their brutality. More on that in a minute.

Another similarity between Sandor and Bertrand is that both have unlikely tournament wins. When Bertrand was 18, in 1337, he entered a local tournament in Brittany as a mystery knight, borrowing a cousin's armor and horse. Bertrand did not receive a horse and armor initially because he was so unfavored by his parents because of his ugliness. Bertrand defeated 15 knights, and was unhelmeted by the 16th. Regardless, the prize of valor was awarded to him, (as were the crowd's hearts) and he returned triumphantly back to his parents. Delighted, Bertrand's Father and Mother swore to give him all the horses and money Bertrand could ask for from that moment on.

Sandor also has an unlikely tournament victory under his belt. After defeating Jamie Lannister, Sandor was headed to the final of The Tourney of The Hand. The second semi-final match of the day was between Loras Tyrell (who allegedly pisses rosewater) and Gregor Clegane. Loras unhorsed Sandor easily, as Loras was riding a mare in heat into the joust, unnerving Gregor's stallion. Gregor, enraged, slew the stallion with one blow, and then attacked the unprepared Loras. Gregor would certainly have killed Loras, if Sandor didn't intervene. Blocking his brother's blows, he faced the full fury of The Mountain's wrath. Eventually, King Robert ordered them to stop. Instead of fighting Sandor in the final, Loras yielded in gratitude, making Sandor the winner of the tournament, even though Sandor had never taken knight's vows. Martin writes:

"He took the victory, and the champion's purse, and, for perhaps the first time in his life, the love of the commons. They cheered him as he left the lists to return to his pavilion."
-A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30

Both Sandor and Bertrand are known for their brutality. When invading Jersey, an English owned channel Island (located just off the cost of Normandy France), Bertrand burned property and killed islanders without discretion. When Bertrand was campaigning in Northern Spain, those who weren't Christian systematically put the the sword, or burned alive.

Bertrand also had no qualms about getting his hands dirty. During the siege of Rennes, from 1356 to 1357, an English knight, William Bamborough, foolishly challenged Bertrand to a duel. Bertrand accepted, and promptly killed him. Bertrand was also known to be illiterate, antagonistic, and cantankerous.

Sandor Clegane also is known to be bad-tempered. When Sandor isn't running butcher boy's down (Rest In Power, Mycha) he's giving existential monologues on knighthood to Sansa Stark:

"Knights are for killing. I killed my first man at twelve. I've lost count of how many I've killed since then. High lords with old names, fat rich men dressed in velvet, knights puffed up like bladders with their honors, yes, and women and children too- they're all meat, and I'm the butcher. Let them have their lands and their gods and their gold. Let them have their sers."
-A Clash of Kings, Chapter 52

Views on knighthood aside, Sandor was considered one of the most dangerous fighters in Westeros. More so, Sandor knows that he's ruthless. This is evident when he utters arguably the most bad ass line of the entire series, while in Hollow Hill with the Brotherhood Without Banners:

"This cave is dark too, but I'm the terror here."
-A Storm Of Swords, Chapter 34

Although Bertrand's life was written in blood, he died of illness while on campaign in Languedoc in 1380. The last time readers see Sandor Clegane, Arya abadons him, leaving him to die from his festering wounds by the Trident. Hope springs eternal, however, as there is a theory that Sandor becomes a novice gravedigger on the Quiet Isle, seen in passing by Brienne of Tarth. Regardless, it is known that Sandor as readers know him is at rest.


The final, comparison that draws a connection between Sandor Clegane and Bertrand Du Guesclin has to do with their monikers. Bertrand Du Guesclin is also known as Le Dogue noir de Brocéliande, or "The Black Dog of Brocéliande." Sandor Clegane is often referred to simply as "The Hound."

Barbarous, physically repellent, and indefatigable fighters, Sandor Clegane and Bertrand Du Guesclin are two dogs that readers and history lovers can scarcely forget.

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