Men of the Night's Watch
The Blood Knights
The Blood Knights were a force of 700 soldiers known as bailiffs and 14 officers known as justiciars. They were appointed by King Alphonse I to exterminate all of the Targaryens and their supporters.
The bailiffs wore black armor of varying quality. Generally it was their own old armor that was painted black, as very few of them could afford brand new armor at the beginning of the Purge. The justiciars armor was specially commissioned by the crown; black plate with silver claws jutting over the shoulders, another set of claws from the gauntlets, and helmets fashioned in the visage of a shadowcat, with shining ivory teeth and jeweled yellow eyes. They wore cloaks made of shadowcat pelts and rode silver destriers, flaunting the Felegris colors.
The men were split as follows: Two justiciars to each area, 50 bailiffs to each justiciar.
The original intention was that the justiciars would sit in their appointed kingdom while the bailiffs collected information about Targaryens and their supporters hiding out. Those people would be summoned to court by the order of the King, put on trial by the justiciar, and dealt with accordingly. Not showing up for your trial meant you plead guilty. If you were found guilty you were killed, others would be put on trial by association and all your lands and properties would be seized no matter if you had an heir or not. One third of your property and wealth would go to the crown, one third would go to the justiciars, and the other third would be split among the bailiffs. Those who informed on Targaryen supporters would also be rewarded, the quality of the reward depending on what information they had to offer.
The Purge was intended to take about ten years to complete, but corruption within the Blood Knights quickly led to daily massacres. These former hedgeknights now had a chance to gain sudden riches and land beyond anything they could have reached beforehand and they took advantage of it. The justiciars in the Crownlands, the Stormlands and the Reach vastly ignored the corruption, some even encouraged their men to find more traitors so that they could gain more as well. Smallfolk would plant images of dragon’s in their neighbor’s home in order to get a piece of their land, or to free up their wives for marriage. Even picking red flowers, eating a red apple, or getting a particularly bad sunburn could be grounds for persecution. Also, those who were NOT pointing out their neighbors as traitors were seen as suspicious and were often put on trial for their silence.
However, in the Vale, The North, and the Riverlands corruption was not so quick to spread and the death toll of those regions was kept relatively low, as the justiciars in those areas tried to do their job to the best of their ability and keep their men in line.
The Reynes, the Great House of the Westerlands, resisted the Purge and refused to participate. Alphonse I ordered the Lannisters to send an army to lay siege on Casterly Rock. Just before Alphonse I’s death the Reynes had all been wiped out and he appointed Lannisters the new Great House.
Upon Alphonse I death, Alphonse II promptly called all the Blood Knights to King’s Landing shortly after his ascension to the throne. They assembled en masse on the stairs of the Great Sept (constructed by King Hereford) where Alphonse II made his first appearance as the new king and gave a grand speech about tolerance. He formally disbanded the Blood Knights and pardoned them each personally for their past wrongdoings, as did the Queen and the High Septon. Their armor was collected and donated to the Night’s Watch as an act of good will, the helmets of the officers were smelted down and molded into statuettes of The Mother as a symbol of mercy. All in all it was a good PR moment for Alphonse II.
The King’s pardon was lost on deaf ears across much of Westeros. Many of the Blood Knights, now returned home, were mysteriously killed and no one really cared. Some turned to drink or gambling or whoring, some fled Westeros all together. Some left their riches and their land, changed their names and led a simple life.