Was a civil war to end the reign of Aerys II, the Mad King, inevitable?

This came up in twitter discussions the other day.

The reign of Aerys II, the Mad King, was so toxic that it was headed for a bad end, no matter what happened. Rhaegar running off with Lyanna Stark pissed off a lot of people, but it was not technically the cause of Robert’s Rebellion – the King abrogating his duty to his subjects by roasting Lord Rickard and Brandon Stark alive in a poor excuse for a trial by combat, that was the thing that made the Rebellion kick off.

So… was that kind of mistake by Aerys inevitable? Was he so psychotic, so blinded by greed and narcissism and paranoia that he would inevitably cross the line and make it legitimate for his noble lords to rebel against his rule? We know that Rhaegar had hoped to stage a coup d’état to oust his father.

Rhaegar had put his hand on Jaime’s shoulder. “When this battle’s done I mean to call a council. Changes will be made. I meant to do it long ago, but . . . well, it does no good to speak of roads not taken. We shall talk when I return.”

AFFC, Jaime I

But does this mean that some kind of rebellious end to Aerys’ reign was certain?

Maybe, maybe not.

It is difficult to see how Aerys’ reign could have been sustained much longer, although it is also not clear that if Rhaegar did attempt a coup d’état if that would be strongly supported by the feudal lords. What is even less clear is if Jon Arryn’s plans for a non-Targaryen regime were something he was actively working towards, or something that he simply quietly ruminated over to himself.

So in a fashion befitting a lawyer, my answer to the title question is “it depends….” 

Continue reading “Was a civil war to end the reign of Aerys II, the Mad King, inevitable?”

Advertisements

House Lannister + Privilege

There’s so much being written at the moment about privilege in the real world. I’m going to try to steer clear of that for this blog, and focus instead on the representation of privilege that GRRM gives us in ASOIAF.

This blog is inspired by BryndenBFish’s latest blog on the factors that have led to the perfect political storm that Varys intends to exploit with the arrival of Aegon. What caught my eye was this observation about Jaime:

What Jaime could not understand was that the growing power of the sparrows was due entirely to his family’s actions specifically in the Riverlands. The army of sparrows that were massing in King’s Landing and the Riverlands were the expression of a popular outrage against the abuses committed during the War of the Five Kings. This is one of the flashing warning signs that Cersei should have heeded in her conversation with the High Sparrow. The sparrows’ grievances were built on a foundation of war atrocities that had been committed by her father and brother’s armies. So, while Cersei Lannister had allowed the Faith to rearm with the expectation that the High Sparrow and his army to be loyal to her and her son, these men and women were already hostile to the Lannister regime.

The Lannister children (Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion) are the epitome of privilege in Westeros. They are used to having everything that gold can acquire at their disposal, and complete political and legal immunity because of Tywin’s ruthlessness. This has led to the current climax of cock ups that constitute Cersei’s attempts to rule Westeros through her sons. In Westeros at least, the privileged are about to fall, and fall hard.

It’s not just that Cersei is so politically incompetent that she re-armed the Faith Militant, it’s also that Tyrion is lashing out because he wasn’t allowed to be The Lannister of Casterly Rock, and Jaime is continuing to enforce Tywin’s corrupt and cruel policies in the Riverlands.

Continue reading “House Lannister + Privilege”

Tywin Lannister: War Criminal (Part 3)

I’ve already made one and two arguments that Tywin Lannister is a war criminal. Saved the worst for last.

I’ve been putting this off, because the Red Wedding is just so unpleasant. But… in absence of anything else to blog about, time to dissect the Red Wedding as a crime against humanity.

tumblr_mntlzsvnd21r1qhd4o1_500

Tywin Lannister isn’t alone in planning and executing this manoeuvre. In fact, it’s unclear how much or how little he was involved at all, but he certainly had forewarning of Roose Bolton and Walder Frey’s plot, and encouraged them with promises of royal pardons and rich rewards for carrying out the most savage breach of guest right since the Rat Cook.

Tywin wasn’t at the Twins when the Red Wedding occurred. He was in King’s Landing. He was smart enough not to leave any obvious trail of planning… so we need to dissect what we can from the POV chapters of Arya, Sansa and Tyrion to determine how much command responsibility Tywin Lannister actually bears for this gross and obscene crime against humanity.

Continue reading “Tywin Lannister: War Criminal (Part 3)”

Tywin Lannister: War Criminal (Part 2)

Previously we looked at my accusations that Tywin Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock, Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, Warden of the West, father of the Queen and (after Joffrey’s accession to the Throne) Hand of the King (again) is a war criminal.

The TL;DR for that one is…

  1. While I think that the elimination of Houses Reyne and Tarbeck in the infamous “Rains of Castamere” assault is a truly revolting mass murder, I am not convinced that it is a war crime as I do not believe the rebellion of the Reynes and Tarbecks, and Tywin’s forces riding out to quash it, adequately meets the criteria for a non-internaitonal armed conflict. If it’s not a war, it’s not a war crime – it’s just a CRIME.
  2. However the murders of Elia Martell and her children, Rhaenys and Aegon Targaryen, are most definitely a war crime, because Tywin ordered his men to eliminate the children – who were not a military target.

game-thrones-garden-of-bones-tywin-lannister

What I didn’t go into much in the second example was the issue of command responsibility, which I will raise more in this blog, because it comes up again. What makes Tywin Lannister a war criminal is not that he actually literally dirties his hands with the blood of his victims: he simply orders men under his command to do it. But he is responsible for it as their commander.

The raiding and pillaging of the Bloody Mummers is another grey area: is it a non-international armed conflict, or is it an act of aggression in peacetime?

What I propose to question in this blog is raiding of the Riverlands by Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane and the band of distasteful mercenaries called properly the Brave Companions, but known more by their sobriquet “The Bloody Mummers” – Vargo Hoat, Biter, Shagwell the Fool, Septon Utt, Qyburn the disgraced and ‘defrocked’ maester, and Urswyck the Faithful. They pillage, reave and rape their way across the Riverlands, ending up squatting in Harrenhal, holding that ancient castle for the Lannister armies. We encounter them in Arya and Jaime’s misadventures in the Riverlands through the first act of ASOAIF (AGOT-ASOS).

  1. Tywin ordering the Bloody Mummers to pillage the Riverlands was an act of aggression – but was it the start of the War of the Five Kings, or did Catelyn Tully Stark do that when she seized Tyrion Lannister?
  2. Tywin ordered his men to ravage the Riverlands, to provoke a response from the then Hand of the King – Ned Stark. Why was this not dealt with within the Westeros justice system as an act of treason or breach of the peace?
  3. Is Tywin responsible for all of the acts of the Bloody Mummers?

Continue reading “Tywin Lannister: War Criminal (Part 2)”

Tywin Lannister: War Criminal

Good old Tywin Lannister. The man who ruled Westeros with an Iron Fist for the Iron Throne…. right?

tywin_lannister_by_serclegane

Art by SerClegane via Deviant Art

Well, sorry Lannister lovers. I detest the man, which I kind of hope was the point of this vicious and manipulative character on GRRM’s part.

There are four major crimes which stand out for me as evidence that Tywin Lannister was a grade A arsehole toerag and, for three of these incidents under international law about the conduct of armed conflict which I’m going to apply to Westeros despite the lack of a Geneva Convention in ASOIAF, make the head of House Lannister a war criminal.

  1. His mass murder of Houses Reyne and Tarbeck in the massacre known as the “Rains of Castamere” – now technically this doesn’t make Tywin a war criminal, because there was no armed conflict at the time. It just makes him a mass murderer!
  2. The unnecessary and visceral murders of Elia Martell and her two children, Rhaenys and Aegon Targaryen, during the Sack of King’s Landing, carried out on Tywin’s orders by Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch.
  3. The ravaging of the Riverlands which preceded and crossed into the civil war dubbed The War of the Five Kings, also by Gregor Clegane, Amory Lorch and their band of Bloody Mummers, again on Tywin’s direct orders.
  4. Finally, the big one: the Red Wedding.

Now, as wonderful as Charles Dance’s performance of Tywin was on Game of Thrones, let’s just take a quick moment to savour Tywin as he is described in the books, mutton chops and all… (I couldn’t get this wonderful image to load, but take the time to go and check out the link. THAT is the image I had in my head reading, before it was displaced by Charles Dance!)

This blog is going to look at the first two. A further blog will dissect the Riverlands rampage and the Red Wedding (because it’s late, and I want to sleep…)

Continue reading “Tywin Lannister: War Criminal”

Robb & Honour: What was Ned’s example?

robb-stark-robb-stark-30216669-500-500

Gif sourced from FanPop

One of the Young Wolf’s major disastrous decisions is his hormonally-influenced rash choice to totally ignore the marriage pact his mother arranged with Walder Frey to guarantee the Northern armies could cross the Trident during the War of The Five Kings, in favour of wedding the girl whose honour he had besmirched by bedding her when upset after learning about the “deaths” of his younger brothers.

Would Robb have made a wiser decision if he had learned different lessons about honour from daddy dearest Ned Stark?

What impact does Robb’s relationship with his much loved and, by his mother, much hated bastard brother do to inform Robb’s decision making process?

Or was Robb’s dick just making all the decisions for him?

Continue reading “Robb & Honour: What was Ned’s example?”