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 War of the Five Kings, and its ignoble ending at the Red Wedding, eradicated a lot of the claimants for the Iron Throne or any regional thrones in Westeros.
As we prepare for the launch of season 6 GOT, let’s review where we left everyone at the end of A Feast for Crows/A Dance of Dragons – specifically, those main characters that many think (or hope!) will go on to be future pawns in the Game of Thrones, or major players.
NB: I’m not up to date on the TV show. I’ve monitored Buzzfeed and Tumblr, and have a reasonably good idea of the deviations in plot and major points, but I haven’t actually watched past season 2 GOT myself. It’s on my To Watch list and I recently got the 5 season box set… but I haven’t actually sat down and binged yet as I’ve had stuff to do.
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