If ever there was a family that needs some SERIOUS therapy, it’s the three sons of Steffon and Cassandra Baratheon: Robert, Stannis and Renly.
“Robert was the true steel. Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He’ll break before he bends. And Renly, that one, he’s copper, bright and shiny, pretty to look at but not worth all that much at the end of the day.”
We cannot discount the destructive influence on the elder two of witnessing their parents die at sea in a storm. They literally stood on the ramparts of Storm’s End, hoping to see Mum and Dad come home…. only to see Mum and Dad’s ship be broken apart, knowing everyone on board would drown in the raging seas. (Except Patchface. Why Stannis kept him around is perplexing – the ultimate masochistic reminder of his parents’ fate?!)
Renly escapes this trauma, only to have his own trauma of growing up raised by his brothers (one literally distant and the other emotionally distant) and his castellan.
Nearly all the problems engulfing Westeros right now following the War of the Five Kings, not to mention that actual war itself, could have been avoided had these three brothers been able to actually talk to each other…. y’know, with words and stuff.
House words in Westeros aren’t just a catchy buzzword. They’re a mantra, an ethos to the way that this family works. Even after she’s Lady Stark, Catelyn Tully Stark makes decisions based on the Tully creed family, duty, honour. Daenerys spends her arc from Pentos to Meereen to the Dothraki Sea again figuring out what it means to bring fire and blood.
So if the Tyrells want to grow strong, work their way up the social chain, into positions of power, and have a Tyrell child one day be King on the Iron Throne… why marry the gay Baratheon brother?
This post could also be titled: the Tyrells knew all about the Lannister twins incest, because Mace’s enthusiasm for a Tyrell King only makes sense if he knew that a child born to Renly Baratheon had the best chance of ending up on the Iron Throne.
The title of this post is an homage to a former colleague, who used to do a professional development training lecture every year or so which he dubbed “the plodder’s guide to bail applications” – meaning that there is no great secret to a bail application, you can do a legally perfect one and be denied bail, or do a legally wobbly one and get bail for your client.
This is my plodder’s guide to the Kings and Queens of the Iron Throne of Westeros. Because frankly…. I frequently get totally confused, so if nothing else I’d like a short list for future reference just for myself!
This won’t be any detailed character analysis: just a dot point guide to the rulers of Westeros, from Aegon the Conqueror to Tommen the Beetslayer.
Fair warning: this is a long post. It got away from me when trying to figure out the Dance of the Dragons!
I have also highlighted the moments of royal history that provide the relevant law to the Iron Throne’s succession – because this is going to be relevant to future plot points. Tommen is likely to die before he produces any “Baratheon” heirs, and then the realm will have to grapple with a field of potential applicants for the Throne – many of them women or girls.
Southron Ambitions is the name for a much touted fan theory that Rickard Stark married off his sons and daughter to southern houses for the purpose of aligning with other Great Houses. It’s pretty well accepted because it fits with the recent history of ASOIAF:
Brandon Stark was betrothed to Catelyn Tully
Eddard Stark was fostered at the Eyrie by Jon Arryn
Hoster Tully was negotiating with Tywin Lannister for Lysa to marry Jaime
Lyanna Stark was betrothed to Robert Baratheon
Oberyn Martell reminiscences with Tyrion about Oberyn and Elia visiting Casterly Rock with their mother, who had ambitions to match off her kids to the Lannister Twins (can you imagine Cersei and Oberyn? Hilarious.)
So we know for a fact that there was a lot of marriage alliances going on between all the major houses in Westeros, except for the Tyrells, who at that point didn’t have anyone of marriageable age (remember – Loras and Margaery are only 15-17 at the time of ASOS)
But I think there was more than just plans to get to know each other at the heart of these marriage alliances. Remember, in medieval times, marrying your sons and daughters off was the best way to seal a political union.
The TLDR version is:
Bitter Lady Dustin is correct that Rickard Stark had “southron ambitions” in arranging Southron matches for his children
but she doesn’t know the bigger picture: the Great Houses involved in these matches were preparing to overthrow the Targaryens for ever.
plan was massively accelerated when Lyanna ran off with Rhaegar as Aerys’ over reaction to Brandon’s behaviour, and killing Brandon and Rickard, gave the would be rebels the perfect excuse to launch their planned rebellion.
Rhaegar v Robert, as depicted in The World of Ice & Fire