Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis – Eddard II

“I’ve half a mind to leave them all behind and just keep going.”

A smile touched Ned’s lips. “I do believe you mean it.”

“I do, I do,” the king said. “What do you say, Ned? Just you and me, two vagabond knights on the kingsroad, our swords at our sides and the gods know what in front of us, and maybe a farmer’s daughter or a tavern wench to warm our beds tonight.”

“Would that we could,” Ned said. “but we have duties now, my liege…”

Synopsis: Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon go for a ride to the barrows of the First Men and discuss matters of state, including the marriage of Daenerys Targaryen, the moral and ethical question of assassination, the threat of the Dothraki, the Wardenship of the East, and the Sack of King’s Landing.

SPOILER WARNING: This chapter analysis, and all following, will contain spoilers for all Song of Ice and Fire novels and Game of Thrones episodes. Caveat lector.

Political Analysis:

Eddard II is another short chapter that nevertheless packs in an enormous amount of political information about “matters of state” in Westeros. The subject of conversation: Daenerys’ marriage to Khal Drogo as revealed by Lord Varys, the Tallyrand of Westeros, through his spy Jorah Mormont. Like his Francophone spiritual counterpart, Varys shows the complicated nature of post-revolutionary consolidation. We often think of revolutions as events that sharply delineate the boundaries between eras, with the ancien regime thrown out completely. The reality is always more complicated; Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord survived the fall of Louis XVI, supported the French Revolution in its Girondist, Jacobin, and Thermidorean phases, served the Directorate, the Consulate, and Napeolon’s Empire, and survived to serve the restored Louis XVIII. Likewise, important elements of the old Targaryen regime (in the persons of Varys and Pycelle) survived the Rebellion through Jon Arryn’s clemency.

Enough to make you believe in reincarnation.

Varys’ mention in this chapter does show us something more about the Illyrio/Varys Conspiracy – clearly, the two of them intended for the Drogo/Daenerys marriage to be a visible threat to get King Robert to react to, since Varys could have very easily kept this information tucked up his sleeves. Instead, like the stage magician that he is, Varys is holding up one hand for the realm to focus on, while keeping the hand with Aegon and the Gold Company out of sight. And given that he also is in charge of assassinations, Varys can also modulate how effective Robert’s response will be, which allows the Conspiracy to avoid taking an early loss (given what we learn from the Dunk and Egg stories, three dragon eggs are not merely a staggeringly large investment, but a huge symbolic statement of Targaryen heritage) while still keeping Aegon unseen. As we’ll learn later, this use of misdirection is an absolute hallmark of the Illyrio/Vary Conspiracy, ever since Illyrio and Varys would “steal” and “return” sensitive information to their owners back during their youths in Pentos.

The news also brings up the major split between two men who are otherwise brothers in all but name – the murder of children, specifically the assassination of Daenerys. However, I think Ned’s position here is more nuanced than just the honor-above-all that he often gets tagged with. Keep in mind that unlike Robert, who rode to avenge a personal insult to his manhood, Ned rose up against a king because the king murdered children and in doing so violated the unwritten customs (which also include the guest-right, the right to trial, prohibitions on kin-slaying, the upholding of oaths, and other maxims) that pass for human rights law in Westeros. During the Rebellion, this was enough to cause Ned to break with Robert, which might have been a permanent division had not Lyanna’s death and the Greyjoy Rebellion brought them back together. For Eddard then, his support for Robert’s regime is conditioned on a certain standard of government that goes above and beyond personal standards of behavior.

Eddard’s position on this issue has often been held up as evidence that he’s simply not suited to the Machiavellian power politics of King’s Landing. However, I think we also have to consider the question of whether Ned, who was about Robb’s age when the Rebellion happened, has some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that triggers specifically off of the death of children. Eddard begins to hear Lyanna’s voice in the middle of this conversation, as he did back in the crypts of Winterfell and as he does in other moments of high stress throughout the book – and while his fever dream might be chalked off to delirium and the effects of opiates, I think his monologue while in the dungeons of the Red Keep is something closer to a nervous breakdown. Perhaps as he mused to himself, “some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word.” To my mind this should inform our judgement as to Eddard Stark’s skills as a politician; an Eddard Stark who never experienced the traumas of Robert’s Rebellion might have acted very differently.

Certainly, in his own territory, Eddard Stark has little qualms against executing traitors and oathbreakers, making war on the Greyjoys if they were to threaten him, and taking hostages to insure his safety. Given his posthumous reputation throughout the North, he was clearly adept enough at the rough-and-tumble politics of dealing with some rather touchy Northern clans that they are willing to go to war for the Starks even after the virtual extinction of the House. As we see from Robb’s and Bran’s experiences as Lords in Winterfell, the North isn’t just a place of bluff, honest warriors but just as much a place where power politics rule – the Umbers don’t get along with the Glovers; the Manderlys (who like to build public works at Stark expense), Tallharts, Flints, Karstarks and Boltons are interested in expanding their territories at the expense of the Hornwoods; the Boltons have only been relatively recently brought under Stark control, and clearly require a strong hand to keep in check, which Eddard did for seventeen years.

Ned Stark’s political savvy is further shown in his conversation with Robert about the Wardenship of the East (which I have discussed repeatedly, but I think there’s more to say). He clearly can see the broader geopolitical issues that arise from making Lannisters the Wardens of East and West. “No one man should hold both East and West” because “the appointment would put half the armies of the realm into the hands of Lannisters.” This phrase – echoed in Jon I – that the Wardens command great armies in the King’s name shows two things.

First, it shows the danger that Robert’s Cersei-inspired favoritism has created; this goes beyond the Starks’ distrust of the Lannisters, by antagonizing the Arryns and by destabilizing the balance of power between the Great Houses. In the past, there was always an element of balance – the Starks might have been Wardens of the North, but they still had the Greyjoys to their west (who we know have warred with the Starks at least three times) and the Arryns to their southeast (despite the recent good relations, the Starks and Arryns warred over the Sisters for a thousand years) to balance them; the Lannisters as Wardens of the West had to contend with Greyjoys, Tullys, and Tyrells; the Tyrells as Wardens of the South were in turn checked by Lannisters, Baratheons, and especially the Dornish. This move puts the Lannisters in the position of cutting the Seven Kingdoms virtually in half and beginning to encircle the Crownlands. It also antagonizes the rest of the Great Houses, by putting the Lannisters a level of power above them.

Second, it raises the rather perplexing question of how far along the line between early feudal monarchy (which has little direct power apart from the loyalty of its vassals) and Renaissance nation state (with its large standing army and developed bureaucracy) the Seven Kingdoms are. On the one hand, the Crownlands are rather small in comparison to the rest of Westeros and in descriptions of previous wars fought by the kings, their armies are always described as being composed of various nations (Dornish, the Vale, etc.) which suggests a feudal model with a weak king. On the other hand, we have multiple references to the Wardens commanding “armies of the realm” which are described as unusually large, and these armies are repeatedly distinguished from the levies they command as feudal overlords. My best guess is that the Wardens are something in between – they are royal officials who can command all of the vassals of their cardinal direction, including those of neighboring regions, against a threat to the Realm. Thus, a Stark Warden of the North would likely be able to call upon the Iron Islands, the Sisters, and the northern Riverlands in the event of a Wildling assault on the Wall, while an Arryn Warden of the East could command the lords of the Crownlands and the Stormlands in the event of invasion since Essos. This raises a second danger – not only could an ambitious Warden raise large numbers of troops, but they can also disrupt the feudal relationships of their rivals.

Finally, we learn more about the source of Eddard Stark’s antipathy to the Lannisters – which has previously been only intimated. I’ve already discussed how the murder of Elia, Aegon, and Rhaenys could in addition to being driven by Eddard’s own trauma be a reflection of his fear for Jon Snow’s life at the hands of the Lannisters who “helped taint the throne you sit on.” We now learn that Eddard believed that the Lannisters’ treachery against King Aerys and his encounter with Jaime Lannister in the throne room of the Red Keep meant that the Lannisters were making a move to take the Iron Throne for their own house. Ironically, although Robert discounts this threat, Eddard is one of the few in the kingdom who actually believes what is true – that the Lannisters are planning a coup d’êtat.

Historical Analysis:

Eddard’s conversation with Robert about the potential dangers of the Targaryen heirs invading from Essos brings up another similarity between Westeros and the England of the Wars of the Roses – both are island nations, which can be either an advantage (it spared Westeros from the wars between Valyria, Ghis, and the Rhoynar, the doom of Valyria, and the wars between Essos city-states over the disputed lands), or a disadvantage if Essos becomes a springboard for invasion by royal pretenders.

Arguably since the Norman Conquest in 1066, England had always been in danger of invasions from the European continent, especially when said invasions were tied to disputed successions over the English throne. The so-called Anarchy between King Stephen and the Empress Maude saw repeated landings from Normandy as the Empress Maude sought to establish her claim to the throne; Henry Bolingbroke returned from exile overseas to overthrow Richard II and install himself as Henry IV; the Wars of the Roses were especially known for this, with Margaret D’Anjou of Lancaster and Edward IV of York both repeatedly fleeing to the Continent following major defeats, only to return with the tide had shifted. This phenomena of royal pretenders using mainland Europe as a base had real geopolitical implications – at various times, the French (especially following the English Civil War and the Jacobite Wars) and Spaniards (during the time of Elizabeth, for example) sought to place a friendly monarch on the throne of England in order to tip the balance of power in Europe towards themselves and away from their rivals.

We see the same phenomenon in Westeros – even after the Targaryen invasion seem to have put an end to large-scale invasions from the East, the first Blackfyre Rebellion ended not with the complete extinction of the rival Targaryen claimants, but rather with Bittersteel Rivers taking the remnants of the Blackfyre loyalists across the Narrow Sea to Essos where he founded the Golden Company. For sixty years, the Blackfyre loyalists threatened invasion, with the great danger being the confluence of a Blackfyre heir bearing Daemon’s sword arriving from across the sea with an army at his back. This never came to pass, but not without great effort and much luck – the Second Blackfyre Rebellion featured a credible and charismatic heir, but no sword; the War of Ninepenny Kings saw Maelys Blackfyre and the Golden Company consolidate Tyrosh, the Disputed Lands, and the Stepstones into a dagger aimed at the Targaryen throne.

This tradition I think should give us a different impression of Robert’s obsession with wiping out the Targaryen threat; this is not simply the act of an irrationally vengeful man afraid of ghosts, but rather a practical statesmen dealing with a familiar danger to the realm. It also explains the importance of the Wardenship of the East and the Master of Ships to the defense of the Realm – between these two offices control of the Narrow Sea, Westeros’ watery walls, lies. Given the close relationship between Jon Arryn and Stannis (another bit of backstory we unfortunately haven’t seen), the Realm was likely in good hands – until Jon Arryn died.

What If?

Eddard II gives us a whole host of interesting alternate histories for us to consider, thanks to the further explanation of Eddard and Robert’s past:

  • King Eddard? A number of fanfiction writers have taken the moment when Eddard Stark rides his horse into the Red Keep and forces Jaime Lannister to relinquish his seat on the Iron Throne as their moment of departure. There are two problems that tend to crop up here: first, the Stark/Tully/Arryn/Baratheon allaince had already agreed on Robert as the best claimant to the Throne and Eddard was personally loyal to Robert. The only situation that conceivably could have led to a Stark king on the Iron Throne is if Robert had died of his wounds at the Trident, leaving Eddard as the man on the spot. The second error they make is to railroad Eddard into marrying Cersei, when the reality is that the Lannister marriage was driven by very specific circumstances. In Robert’s case, he was unattached and able to bring the Lannisters into the fold (although they could have just as easily married him to one of Mace Tyrell’s sisters for much the same purpose of bringing a wealthy Great House with uncertain loyalty into the new regime). By contrast, King Eddard’s Tully marriage would have been the lynchpin tying the Starks, Arryns, and Tullys together as the chief supports of the new regime. Marrying Cersei Lannister would have been a strategic mistake for the new King, weakening his base of support; the most likely outcome there is a marriage to Stannis or Edmure to broaden the alliance.
  • Eddard Kills Jaime in the Throne Room –  the more likely divergence is that Eddard was so enraged by the Lannisters’ treachery and murder that he takes it into his head that the Lannisters are making a play for the Iron Throne and attacks the Lannister forces head-on. This would change the course of future events greatly. Instead of being one of the chief supporters of the new regime, the Lannisters are instead bitter enemies even in defeat, probably combining with the Greyjoys to broaden the later rebellion. The new regime would likely need to reach out to the Tyrells and the Martells (hardly an easy business), but given both Houses’ hatred for the Lannisters, I imagine a modus vivendi could have been worked out, with Robert likely marrying a Tyrell sister. However, the politics would be extremely tricky – the Tyrells are pure opportunists, but the Martells are both Targaryen loyalists (although it’s not like none of those were found in OTL Robert’s government) and would likely work to build alliances against the Tyrells.
  • King Stannis – If Robert had made the decision after the Battle of the Trident not to take up the crown and had instead left to become a mercenary lord in Essos (where honestly I think he would have done quite well and been a lot happier) or had died of his wounds without Eddard feeling the need to take the Iron Throne, it’s quite possible that the rebel alliance would have turned to Stannis Baratheon as their claimant, given his bloodline. A King Stannis would have made some interesting changes – for one thing, we know that Stannis opposed Jon Arryn’s policy of clemency, and would likely have had Varys and Pycelle executed as Targaryen loyalists. Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch would probably have been executed as child-murderers and rapists, since the good doesn’t wash out the bad in Stannis’ eyes. The question of his marriage alliance is a tricky one – Stannis would likely be extremely wary of the Lannisters as murderous Johnny-come-latelys (although that might not have precluded a marriage out of duty), while hating the Tyrells as the men who nearly starved him to death. Relations with Dorne would probably improve as a result of Stannis’ unflinching justice. And a certain half-handed Onion Knight might have become Master of Ships…
  • Ned and Robert Permanently Split – In OTL, Ned and Robert’s split at King’s Landing likely ended through a combination of their shared grief at Lyanna’s death and the chance to fight together against the Greyjoy Rebellion? But it’s certainly possible for them to have split; if Eddard had let slip that Lyanna had gone willingly with Rhaegar (while still maintaining the fiction of Jon’s birth), if Robert had been more aggressively bloodthirsty regarding the surviving Targaryens, the two might have ended their friendship there. In that case, Eddard Stark never leaves for King’s Landing, and sometime in 299 AL gets the news that Mance Rayder is mustering and the dead are walking – in which case, the banners are called and the North marches to defend the Wall as they have done so many times before. When Jon Arryn dies, Tywin Lannister replaces him as Hand and the need for Robert to be executed so quickly fades. As Hand for a second time, Tywin probably would do a lot to reform the Crown’s finances, and probably coughs up enough cash to hire a couple of Faceless Men to put an end to Daenerys and Viserys at the wedding.
  • Stannis Becomes Warden of the East – if Eddard had actually persuaded Robert to make Warden of the East, some really interesting things happen. Firstly, given his immediate access to Lysa Arryn and Jon Arryn’s household staff, it’s quite possible that Stannis teases out the truth of Jon Arryn’s murder, especially once Catelyn Stark shows up with Tyrion in tow. While Stannis is a hard man, I doubt he allows the farce of Tyrion’s trial to go on as OTL and then you have the interesting possibility of the Lannisters, Starks, and Baratheons uniting to quash the perfidious Littlefinger Conspiracy. Regardless, the military situation changes greatly in the War of the Five Kings – with Dragonstone and Gulltown at his command, and the might of the Knights of the Vale as well, Stannis likely takes King’s Landing well before Renly can get there. This raises some rather strange possibilities: a three-or-four-way siege of King’s Landing, with Lannisters, Baratheon/Tyrells, and Starks all outside the walls. On the other hand, Renly might think again about trying for the monarchy if Stannis actually got onto the Iron Throne ahead of him, with three hostile armies in the field – in that circumstance, becoming Stannis’ heir is a good move.

Book vs. TV:

I thought this scene in the book did capture Eddard and Robert’s friendship and their disagreement over the Targaryens, but I thought the loss of Ned’s political savvy unfortunately contributes to the idea that Eddard Stark is honorable to the point of stupidity. On the other hand, given that neither the Wardenship of the East or Stannis had been mentioned by this point, it likely would have undermined the scene’s overall thrust.

55 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis – Eddard II

  1. Brett says:

    Great essay. I ultimately do plan to read along, although that will only make me long for Winds of Winter even more. ;(

    King Stannis

    If Jon Connington hadn’t been so impatient and incompetent, this could have happened. I suspect it would have led to a civil war, though, when Stannis alienates the people he should be reconciling with.

    More interesting to me would be if Robert had given him Storm’s End instead of Dragonstone (he gave it to Renly in the actual story). That gives Stannis both less of a refuge and more of a power base to start his rebellion.

    King Eddard?

    It could happen, although it would be a precarious position. To cement his rule between his Triple Axis of House and the rest, he’d likely have to either marry off a young Edmure Tully (less secure), or get his youngest brother back from the Wall and marry him off.

    I’m more curious as to what he would do about the Targaryen siblings. Would he just leave them in exile?

    I thought this scene in the book did capture Eddard and Robert’s friendship and their disagreement over the Targaryens, but I thought the loss of Ned’s political savvy unfortunately contributes to the idea that Eddard Stark is honorable to the point of stupidity.

    With Book-Ned, I get the impression that his rigidity comes from having to lie continuously to Robert for ten years, as well as his original “second son” status. He’s become extra-honorable to make up for it, and the second son status means that he was the “Bran” of his family, and not fully trained to be the heir of Winterfell. If Brandon hadn’t gotten himself killed, Ned might have lived a happy existence married off to one of his father’s bannerman’s daughters.

    • John says:

      Benjen wouldn’t yet have been on the Wall at the time of war’s end, would he? There must always be a Stark in Winterfell, and I assumed that the Stark in Winterfell during the Rebellion was Benjen, since there’s no other Starks available (baby Robb is in Riverrun, Lyanna is in the Tower of Joy, Ned is at war, and there’s no other Starks we know about).

    • stevenattewell says:

      On King Stannis – well, if Jon Connington kills Robert, chances are the rebellion crashes and burns. As for reconciliation, it didn’t work out so well for Robert. I actually think Stannis would be a decent king. If instead he winds up with Storm’s End, it’s a similar situation to him becoming Warden of the East.

      King Eddard – you’re right about Edmure and Benjen. Although it’s possible Benjen doesn’t join given the need for a Stark in Winterfell. Eddard would probably leave them in exile, and might even countenance some sort of reconciliation when he feels secure enough to reveal Jon’s birth.

      Book-Ned – yes, or Ashara Dayne.

  2. Koby Itzhak says:

    “We now learn that Eddard believed that the Lannisters’ treachery against King Aerys and his encounter with Jaime Lannister in the throne room of the Red Keep meant that the Lannisters were making a move to take the Iron Throne for their own house. Ironically, although Robert discounts this threat, Eddard is one of the few in the kingdom who actually believes what is true – that the Lannisters are planning a coup d’êtat.” – Indeed, although one should point out that at the time, such a theory was wrong. His beliefs about the dangers of Jaime are completely wrong – Jaime has no desire to become King, Hand or even Warden. He’s right, but for the wrong reasons at this stage. What was truly odd to me about this was that Jaime had not done anything wrong. Why was Eddard so disturbed by him sitting on the Iron Throne, especially considering he got up moments later?

    “Arguably since the Norman Conquest in 1066, England had always been in danger of invasions from the European continent, especially when said invasions were tied to disputed successions over the English throne.” – More good examples are the invasions of Monmouth, Charles II during the interregnum and possibly the closest example, the French Invasion during the reign of John. The First Baron’s War had already been going on for some time, and the only thing they were lacking was a rival claimant to the throne, and more forces. The same is true for Westeros – there is no good claimant (by ‘good’ I mean someone with right, charisma and forces) for the throne until the Targaryens show up.

    “Eddard Kills Jaime in the Throne Room” – Although as far as we know, such a duel is just as likely to end with Eddard dead, especially since it seems that the Lannister forces were there first and possibly more numerous. And we have no true idea to the amount of skill Eddard has with a sword, compared to Jaime, who is considered the best Swordsman in the Kingdom following the deaths of the rest of the Kingsguard.

    Frankly, I have to question any of Eddard’s interaction with Jaime, because it seems that everybody has some kind of strange image of Aerys in their minds, where they were actively in rebellion against him, but can’t possibly accept him being murdered. If Eddard had come in with the Lannisters, and Jaime hadn’t killed Aerys, would Eddard have done it? Why would that have been different from Jaime’s act? They both swore oaths. I think the only person who accepted Jaime killing Aerys with no reservations was Robert, with his hatred of the Targaryens.

    • John says:

      The Kingsguard oath is, I think, a rather more serious affair than the general oaths of fealty that lords take to the king. Ned, at any rate, would have never taken an oath of loyalty to Aerys, since he only became Lord of Winterfell after Aerys murdered his father. Robert, Jon Arryn, and Hoster Tully are violating their oaths, though.

      • Koby Itzhak says:

        Why so? Jaime’s oath is only more serious in the sense that he is personally sworn to protect the King and his family, and he reneges on the oath. It may be worse, but not by much. Everybody broke their oaths. Barristan also swore the same oath, and betrayed Viserys and Dany. The only difference is that Jaime had justification in killing Aerys, in the person of his vow as a knight. Legally, one could say that none of the others had the right to rebel. All Eddard and Robert had was the right to revenge on Aerys/Rhaegar for killing Rickard/Brandon and kidnapping Lyanna. And Barristan certainly had no justification for betraying his oath. I cannot take all this talk of honor seriously when Jaime was the only one who could claim two conflicting oaths as the reasoning for his breaking one of them, yet none of the others (including the dead Kingsguard) are called to account for their oath-breaking.

      • John says:

        First, Ned never swore an oath to Aerys, so he, relatively uniquely, has the ability to sit on his high horse about oath breaking.

        Secondly, it seems like you’re arguing about how people should respond, rather than how they actually do. The fact is that Jaime’s murder of Aerys — the specific reasons for which he apparently never explains to anybody — is very clearly viewed by all the characters in the story as more serious than all of the other examples of oath-breaking you mention. The response to that should not be to say that they are all hypocrites. There seem to be two possible responses – I suppose you can say that Martin is a bad writer who has created an inconsistency. But before jumping there, I think the thing to do is to try to see if there are any plausible in-world explanations. And I think the basic one is that if someone murders the king after swearing a very specific personal oath to protect him, that’s another, and more serious, class of oath-breaking from the ones you mention.

        You say Barristan betrayed Dany and Viserys. What do you mean by that, exactly? Do you mean he did so by serving Robert rather than heading east? Or that he did so by not really protesting Robert’s decision to have them assassinated in AGOT? Either way, I don’t see how that’s in the same class as what Jaime did. Aerys was the King. Viserys, distinctly, is not. It is at least arguable that after Aerys’s death, Barristan’s duty was to protect the new king, Robert, rather than to head off to protect the pretender. No such fig leaf was available for Jaime.

        And, again, the fact that Jaime’s murder of Aerys saved King’s Landing from destruction is not something he has told anybody else, so you can’t blame other characters for not taking that into account.

        • Koby Itzhak says:

          I acknowledge all this, and as I said, it’s obvious that Jaime’s Oath-breaking was more serious. What I’m trying to say is that yes, there is a double standard and some hypocrisy. Everybody knew how evil and insane Aerys was, and nobody bothered to stop it until Jaime did, in desperate circumstances. Considering he’s never told anyoen that, it’s unsurprising he’s judged harshly for it; but anyone (expcet possibly Eddard) talking about honor and how Jaime has none is deluding himself. They all broke their oaths and betrayed thier ‘honor’ by their actions, and they all would have killed Aerys in the end. I’m not trying to point out that all the chaacters are hypocrites; rather, I’m trying to point out that the concept of honor as the Westerosi see it is very problematic, as it seems to be ultimate in some cases, yet conveniently ignored in others.

      • John says:

        What characters do we see attacking Jaime for being dishonorable who have also themselves broken oaths?

        • Koby Itzhak says:

          Practically everyone in the series that’s not related: Ned, Barristan, Robert (although Robert might be the only one appreciative of it, given his hatred for all things Targaryen), etc. We only see a bit of it in the books, because we don’t see things from Jaime’s PoV until after they’re dead/gone. But every one of those listed above says it at least once, and several other characters make oblique references to it or mention it when discussing something with someone else.

      • stevenattewell says:

        Jon is partly right. Ned hadn’t sworn an oath yet, nor had Robert (since he was still in fosterage and hadn’t yet attained his majority). Jon Arryn could claim that Aerys had violated his right to Jon Arryn by having Jon’s heir executed. Hoster Tully is a trickier case, but could claim private war against the king for the death of Brandon, which was something else that was known to happen.

        Barristan didn’t betray Viserys and Dany – neither of them were acclaimed as monarchs; Viserys wasn’t even the heir by blood right. Robert was acclaimed King, his duty was to serve Robert.

        Regarding the right to rebel, see my other comment. Aerys threw all of that out the window when he violated his feudal contract with the Stark and Arryn Houses, and threatened the life of Robert Baratheon. Madness isn’t the issue here, but rather Aerys’ violation of the King’s Justice, which he had sworn to uphold to those Houses.

      • John says:

        But, again, Ned didn’t break any oaths. Robert did, so I suppose that’s one, but Robert is a deeply unsympathetic character. Whether Barristan broke his oath is arguable. As I said before, there’s a case to be made that he did not – he protected the King, and only served Robert after Aerys was dead. At the very least, his level of betrayal was in every respect less than Jaime’s.

        • stevenattewell says:

          Robert’s sympathetic nature is something we have to consider separately, but he certainly didn’t break an oath. For one thing, he probably hadn’t made one yet, but regardless, no feudal contract was considered binding to the point of one’s own death. The moment Aerys called for Robert to come to King’s Landing, Robert was within his rights to rebel in defense of his own life.

    • stevenattewell says:

      I doubt they were more numerous, given that they were giving way to Eddard Stark’s forces. As for his skill, we’ll never know, but he did manage to survive against three of the best of the Kingsguard.

      In the medieval mindset, there’s a big difference between killing someone on the battlefield and murdering them, keep in mind.

      Regarding the oaths – feudal oaths of vassalage are not absolute. This is key. Vassalage was a contingent and reciprocal relationship – the vassal offers a set term of military service in exchange for land, but there’s an expectation that neither will violate the rights of the other, and that the contract can be dissolved. Especially in early medieval Europe, vassal lords warred against their kings all the time if they felt the king had wronged them or violated their rights. Aerys had murdered Rickard and Brandon Stark by violating their right to a fair trial, and was calling for the death of Eddard Stark, who had never sworn an oath of vassalage to him (since he hadn’t been a lord before). In the medieval world, Eddard, Robert, Hoster Tully, and Jon Arryn were all within their rights to rebel against the king.

      By contrast, Jaime had sworn a sacred oath to defend the king’s person.

      • Koby Itzhak says:

        Of course oaths of vassalage are reciprocal, but that is what’s ridiculous about the situation. Look at most feudal rebellions lead by nobles – either they got rid of the king’s ‘evil counsellors’, replaced him with his son, or had an equal claimant to the throne. The Anarchy, The First and Second Barons’ War, the Wars of the Roses… even the Interregnum eventually accepted the monarchy again. Here, they may have had the right to break with Aerys and Rhaegar, but the didn’t give them the write to break with any of their descendants. Fealty is sworn not only to the current king, but to the Royal House – otherwise, every regent for a child king could crown himself. You yourself said it – since they never called a Great Council to actually disinherit the Taragaryens, they’ve been in a perpetual state of rebellion with no justification. But it seems clear that Robert was waging an extermination war against the Targaryens, intending to destroy them utterly. And that is definitely in defiance of fealty and vassalage to the royal house, and to the divine mandate which was given to them by the religion.

        As for your point about oaths, that just makes me think this entire thing is even more hypocritical. By this logic, any rebellion of a new noble would be allowed and legal, because he hadn’t actually sworn the oath. ‘Honor’ is defined as more than just keeping the oath – it is an entire lifestyle, in which you can’t actually rebel without justification, where you can’t need to treat people fairly until they break faith with you. It is the same reason Eddard wants to give Stannis the throne, and Stannis expects it to come to him, despite neither of them sworn to the other, nor even liking the other. Because honor isn’t about the actual oath sworn, it’s about a system. And it’s pretty clear that Robert decided to break the system, and nobody but Ned gave a fuck.

        • stevenattewell says:

          Well, they did have an equal claim – Robert’s. I think the parallel here is to Henry Bolingbrooke’s rebellion against Richard II and the Yorkist war, where the intent was to remove the monarch and his successors.

          Normally, the new noble only gets the title and lands conferred when he swears the oath, but Aerys has already broken the system – he’s killed men who asked for a fair trial without giving them one, and has now called for Robert and Eddard to do the same.

          At that point, they’re free to rebel in defense of their lives because their monarch has broken the feudal compact with them.

          • Koby Itzhak says:

            Not a valid comparison at all.Richard II only had Mortimer as his heir, through the female line. Henry IV [V] was popular, owned great estates (before Ricard II decided to confiscate them), had many powerful kin (the Beauforts), and began his campaign by claiming he only wanted his estates back, eventually reaching open rebellion. A far better comparison would be Edward IV returning to England for his second reign, which ended with the extermination of all Lancasterian claimants to the throne – Edouard Prince of Wales dead on the field (similar to Rhaegar), and Henry VI [VII] murdered in the Tower soon after.

            And again, you’re not addressing my actual point, which goes beyond the dry wording of oaths and refers tot he actual meaning of the compact. Robert and Ned have the right to defend their lives, and that may necessitate a rebellion and even killing Aerys (and Rhaegar), but that’s all. They have no right to forswear the ruling house and set themselves up as kings instead, especially with such bullshit reasoning as ‘Aerys was a bad king=Targaryens are mad’. And considering there would have to be a regency for Aegon/Viserys/closest Targaryen claimant, they would have no problem making sure they’re not at all in danger of being killed or the monarchy going bad again. By what right did Robert claim the throne? Everybody knows the claim about the Targaryen girl being Robert’s grandmother was utter crap. It was conquest, pure and simple, and they were all deluding themselves if they couldn’t admit they committing treason. And do you think “they’re free to rebel in defense of their lives because their monarch has broken the feudal compact with them” was what Robert/any other rebel lord told himself when he was offered the bodies of Aegon and Rhaenys, and decided to kill Viserys and Daenerys?

      • John says:

        Robert’s claim may have been weak, but it’s much stronger than the genealogical claim of the Tudors to the English throne. If we see Robert=Henry VII, Viserys=Warwick, Dany=Margaret Pole, we might have a sense of the situation.

        And one can point to plenty of other baron’s rebellions that led to deposition of a rightful monarch and replacement with one of very dubious qualifications. The claim of the bastard Trastamara line to Castile was weak. So was the Angevin claim to Naples. Had the Baronial rebellion against John been successful, they would have installed Louis of France, who had no genealogical claim. The Bruce claim to Scotland was much more based on Robert’s heroic leadership against the English than on his genealogical claim, which was inferior to the Balliol one. The Aviz claim to Portugal was, again, that of a bastard line, when a legitimate heiress existed.

        Robert’s claim was such that, at the time he claimed the throne, the only people with better claims were Viserys and Rhaella (and then, after Rhaella’s death and Dany’s birth, Dany) – and given the general lack of ruling queens, Viserys is the only really plausible alternative. So all Robert really needs to do is come up with some reason to say that Viserys should be disinherited, and he’s fine – and Viserys was already known to be a bit mentally deranged, a reason which had been used to dethrone kings in the past – both Daeron’s daughter and Aerion’s son were passed over to put Aegon V on the throne. Obviously, Robert, so far as we know, didn’t convene a Great Council to officially disinherit Viserys and Daenerys, but is there any doubt that he could have easily done so if he’d thought it necessary? Robert’s claim is perfectly plausible, both from the perspective of real medieval history and from that of what we know of Westerosi history.

        • Koby Itzhak says:

          You’re making my point for me. Henry VII [VIII] had no claim to the throne. He won by force of arms, and his claim came from legitimizing Elizabeth of York and marrying her, which is why he had problems with Lambert Simnel. Obviously, it’s a matter of personal interpretation, but I see Robert as Edward IV rather than Henry VII. Viserys is certainly not Warwick, and I have no idea how you got to that – Jon Arryn was probably Warwick, the guy who ensured his protege (Robert/Edward IV) gained the throne. Dany as Margaret Pole is just as ridiculous – she’s more likely a version of Elizabeth I. Louis of France claimed England not by his heritage, but by his wife, Blanche of Castile, who was John’s niece, the daughter of his sister, Leonora of England. Robert the Bruce’s claim was inferior to the Balliol one, which is why he only became king after killing John Balliol. That is why you’re making my point for me. The examples you’re making (at least the ones I’m familiar with) are indeed very weak claims, strengthened by marriage, but won by force. Heck, Henry VII [VIII] dated his reign to the day before Bosworth Field, so he could attaint all those who fought for Richard III – because Richard’s claim was legitimate and his was not. All the above examples took the throne by force of arms, and were virtually in rebellion against the rightful monarchy until they became monarchs, and even then, they weren’t safe on their thrones – Henry VII&VIII [VIII&IX] went through a spate of judicial murders that decimated any descendants of the House of York, through any line possible. And that is my point. Robert’s claim was false as far as honor goes – it only had to do with force of arms. And by that rational, had someone killed Robert and took over the rebellion, he could just as easily have claimed the throne, despite not having a Targaryen ancestor, whether that person was Ned, Jaime, Jon or anyone else.

      • John says:

        You’re thinking of the wrong Warwick – I was referring to Clarence’s son, a slightly weak-witted boy whom Simnel pretended to be and whom Henry executed in the Tower along with Perkin Warbeck in 1499. Dany as Margaret Pole, Warwick’s sister was about the relative strength of her genealogical claim compared to Robert, not her personality. I don’t think there’s any reason to assume 1:1 correspondences between historical figures and characters – Martin is generally creating composites, so Robert can resemble, in different ways, Edward IV and Henry IV and Henry VII.

        Robert Bruce did not kill John Balliol, who died in exile in France in 1314, shortly after the Battle of Bannockburn, nor did he kill Balliol’s son, Edward, who lived to make much trouble during David Bruce’s reign. He killed the Red Comyn, whose claim was *weaker* than his, but who was still a serious political threat.

        Beyond that, I was responding to your claim that in successful noble rebellions, “either they got rid of the king’s ‘evil counsellors’, replaced him with his son, or had an equal claimant to the throne”

        I pointed out several examples where this was not the case, and you continue to nitpick each example, or to move to a completely different argument. The Tudor rebellion against Richard III did not get rid of the king’s evil counsellors, did not replace him with his son, and did not have an equal claimant to the throne. Henry VII took the throne despite a very dubious claim. Of course he took the throne by conquest, but that didn’t stop Tudor propagandists from treating his Lancastrian claim as legitimate.

        My point was that Robert’s claim is obviously based on conquest, but he also has quite a good genealogical claim – a better genealogical claim than many usurpers had. The only people with better claims than Robert were two small children, the older of whom was known to be mentally unstable. And the fact that Robert, by far the least qualified of the leaders of the rebellion, was chosen as their candidate for the throne had everything to do with his Targaryen descent, which gave him a pretty good genealogical claim after he was done murdering most of the Targaryens.

        • Koby Itzhak says:

          Whoops, my mistake about Robert the Bruce business. And I definitely agree Martin is creating composites. But I think we’ve messed up two separate points. There are (generally speaking, in this context) two kinds/phases of rebellions – rebellions started by someone who claims to be king, or a rebellion which invites a king (often supported by an invasion) which gain support, and have a candidate to replace the king, since that is their point, and examples of this are what the First Barons’ War became, what the Wars of the Roses became and concluded with Henry VII [VIII], The Trastamara claim to Castile (supported by France) and so forth. On the other hand, there are civil wars started by the nobles because the king is proving to be problematic, and unless they escalate, the aim is not to remove the king (or the ruling family) so much as rein in his excesses or replace him with his son. For example, the start of the First Barons War (they only wanted John to sign the Magna Carta), the Second Barons War, the start of the Wars of the Roses (they wanted to get rid of Marguerite), the start of the English Civil War, The French Revolution at first, etc.

          My point is, it seems to me that Robert’s Rebellion began as the second kind of war, much as Robb’s Rebellion did. That is not in and of itself treason or oath-breaking – they simply wished to restrain the king, and the only way to do so was to remove king. But at some point, the rebellion escalated to such a point that the leader of it was declared king, and that was treason and oath-breaking, since they were all sworn to the Targaryens as a whole, and not to Aerys/Rhaegar as individuals. The fact that Robert had to cement his claim and the loyalty of his nobles by making a marriage seems to hint that at least some people were aware of this weakness, and the fact that once the rebellion was not legitimate and actually consisted of ‘strongest man claiming the throne’, anybody could try to do the same, so an alliance was needed to assure the loyalty of those who could pose a threat.

      • John says:

        I’m not sure the distinction you’re making is one that can really be maintained. In real history, baronial rebellions often ended up becoming dynastic ones, as you yourself admit. I think Steven is right that the model of Henry Bolingbroke’s rebellion is a useful comparison to make with Robert’s Rebellion. And dynastic rebellions often have causes that involve misrule by the sitting monarch (certainly the case in 14th century Castile, in the Wars of the Roses, etc.) And I don’t think either the English Civil War or, certainly, the French Revolution, belong in the discussion – the political context was totally different, and neither can be described in any sense as an aristocratic rebellion.

        To move back to Westeros, I think your assumption that everyone had sworn fealty not to Aerys, but to the Targaryen dynasty, is not in evidence. At any rate, obviously Robert’s claim to the throne was not secure; his genealogical claim carried weight only because he’d murdered most of the other Targaryens, half the realm had fought against him or was otherwise potentially unreliable (i.e., the Lannisters), and there was a potential alternative claimant wandering around the Free Cities looking for support. Obviously the legality of Robert’s claim was dubious. But he nonetheless combined right of conquest (which was obviously the original basis for the Targaryens’ claim, too) with a strong genealogical claim (nobody but Viserys and Dany, who are exiled children with no clear supporters, has a better claim than him). Robert’s claim is insecure, but not particularly more insecure than those of, say, Daeron II and Aerys I after the victory over the Blackfyres. Viserys is a distinctly terrible claimant whom virtually nobody supports – only the Martells, and they are biding their time. Things only fall apart when Robert is dead, leaving a child heir, two brothers who want the throne for themselves, and the North itching to outrage their murdered lord.

        I think you’re arguing too much in absolutes here. Either Robert is the legitimate king, or else he’s a usurper and anyone can claim the throne if they have the power to take it. But there’s shades of gray – Robert’s claim is obviously ultimately based on force, but the fact that he has a colorable genealogical claim genuinely does give him greater legitimacy. Again, Robert is by no means the strongest member of the winning coalition. The Stormlands are one of the smaller of the seven kingdoms, and many of the leading lords of the region, like Connington, sided with the Targaryens. The only reason for Robert to be the figurehead is because of his Targaryen blood. And Robert’s claim is, again, actually a really good one, genealogically – only Viserys, who is weak-minded, and Daenerys, who is a girl, have a better claim, and girls and weak-minded boys had repeatedly been passed over in the succession during the Targaryen years (Viserys II succeeded despite having living nieces; Aerion Targaryen had a son who was passed over for probably being insane).

  3. SFG says:

    You missed an important alternative,
    What if the Kingslayer had done his job and protected the life of Rhegar’s family after he offed Ayres

    There is no way Ned kills infant Aegon and Robert is too far away to influence events.
    With an obvious Targaryan successor requiring a long regency between Ned and Jaime/Tywin, what happens next

    • Koby Itzhak says:

      Not necessarily. From the way the books described it, there was no way to do both at once. Jaime killed Aerys even as the Red Keep was being breached. A better option might be what happens if Jaime decides to guard Elia and the children instead of Aerys, saving them. Then Ned/Lannister Forces are forced to kill Aerys (although it may be too late for the city, without Jaime to kill Rossart and prevent the city being burned), but Elia is still alive with her children. Since Ned won’t kill the children, Tywin might strike a deal to become Hand again with Robert/Ned/Jon as Regent.

      • John says:

        Aegon alive doesn’t necessarily mean Aegon as king.

      • stevenattewell says:

        Well, there’s no guarantee that Jaime succeeds in guarding Elia and the children – he’s up against the Mountain.

        And as John points out, there’s no reason why the victorious alliance couldn’t have called a Great Council and disinherited the Targaryen dynasty.

  4. edwin says:

    A big if from me here.
    The faceless men dabble a bit in magic I don’t remember if this involves looking in to the future, but if, then Tywin hiring the faceless men might end up being the end of Tywin instead. He will be better of hiring the sorrowful men.

    • stevenattewell says:

      I don’t follow…why would Tywin hiring the Faceless Men mean his death?

      • edwin says:

        The Faceless men are descendants from slaves and Daenerys is sort of the champion of slaves. At best the Faceless men wouldn’t take the job at worst they might make sure Tywin doesn’t hire anyone else.
        I might have read to much in to it, but when it was revealed that the Faceless men are descendants from slaves I concluded that they would be Daenerys protectors.

        • stevenattewell says:

          I think you’re reading too much into it. The Faceless Men are also assassins for hire and Daenerys hasn’t done her liberator schtick yet by this point in the series.

  5. John W says:

    Excuse my ignorance but what does OTL mean?

  6. John says:

    A King Stannis with a Stannis/Cersei union is kind of a hilarious possibility. I find it hard to think of two characters more ill-suited for each other. But would Cersei cuckold Stannis with her brother?

    Given that Stannis doesn’t seem all that interested in sex, in general (although maybe having a beautiful wife rather than an ugly one would change his attitude a bit), and given that he and Cersei would almost certainly hate one another at least as much as Robert and Cersei did, it seems likely she would, if she had the chance.

    Stannis, though, might not have left that possibility open. For one thing, he might have executed Jaime for violating his oath. That would make for a *really* tense marriage, and a really tense relationship with Tywin Lannister. I think Jon Arryn would likely be able to convince Stannis that political expediency required saving Jaime’s life. But I don’t see that Stannis would possibly accept Jaime as a member of his Kingsguard, so Jaime is probably spending most of his time at Casterly Rock, and probably gets married off to someone. That might make him less available for incestuous union with his sister.

    That, in turn, might obviate the War of the Five Kings as we know it. On the other hand, Stannis is an unpopular bastard, and it’s at least plausible that he inspires some kind of rebellion anyway.

    Assuming that Cersei does cuckold him, whether with Jaime or with someone else, there’s no way Stannis is as complacent about things as Robert is. He’ll figure it out, and Cersei will get her head chopped off. No way Tywin takes that lying down, and he’d find ready allies in the Tyrells, who Stannis will no doubt have seriously offended by now. But who do they champion as their alternate king? It would be tough for the Lannisters to champion an infant boy who has been tainted as a bastard (possibly a bastard born of incest), but Tywin has no claim of his own that anyone would respect, and he’s rather burned his bridges on a Targaryen restoration.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Keep in mind, Cersei’s plot to cuckold Robert did rely on him being a blackout-drunk alcoholic. Stannis drinks water and he generally has sex out of duty, so he’s not going to be out of it enough for her plan to “finish him off in other ways” to work. If she did cuckold him, he finds out, she dies, Tywin likely rebels, makes an alliance with the Tyrells – but best case scenario, it’s him and the Tyrells against the Starks, Tullys, Baratheons, Arryns, and the Martells (who hate both the Lannisters and the Tyrells). That’s not going to end well for Tywin.

      Even with Arryn on the scene, I think the best Jaime can hope for is being exiled to Castle Black.

      Keep in mind, when people talk about unpopularity – they largely mean his personal popularity with the other lords, not with the commons. If he gives the commons peace, prosperity, and justice, he’ll probably be seen as Stannis the Just. And Robert had his own rebellion – as long as the Stark/Tully/Arryn/Baratheon alliance holds, the crown is safe.

      • John says:

        I’d forgotten about the Wall. Jaime taking the Black is actually a fascinating what-if in its own right. He’d probably rise far, and have considerably less self-loathing on the Wall. Would he be a plausible candidate to succeed Jeor Mormont?

        And, of course, Jaime at the Wall makes it extremely clear that Tyrion is Tywin’s heir. Tywin would not be at all happy with that.

        I’m not sure a Lannister/Tyrell rebellion is quite as doomed as you make out. They are the two strongest houses, and Aerys and Rhaegar came close to winning with Tyrell support alone (the Martells mostly sat it out, and I imagine they’d mostly sit out this war, as well) – Lannister backing at the Trident might have given Rhaegar a victory.

        But Tywin would need a candidate to place on the throne. The only plausible non-Targaryen alternative to Stannis would be Renly. Could Renly play a role similar to that played by Clarence in the latter part of the Wars of the Roses? Assuming he’d still be Lord of Storm’s End, which seems likely, he’ll be able to bring many of the Storm Lords along with him, which would certainly be useful for Tywin. They’d still probably lose, but it could be a close run thing. (Another question would be which side Balon Greyjoy takes).

        • stevenattewell says:

          The Lannisters and the Tyrells together have 150,000 men. That’s a lot. But the Starks, Arryns, Tullys, and Baratheons together have 165,000 – and that’s without the 50,000 that the Martells will put into the field.

      • John says:

        That’s close enough to make it interesting, especially since significant parts of Stannis’s strength – the North, the Vale, Dorne – are far away, and won’t be able to get their troops into play immediately. And the Martells might not involve themselves at all. Doran is always playing the long game. If Tywin can get Renly on board, he might be able to get dissident Stormlords and Riverlords to back him. Stannis will have made enemies.

  7. Haven says:

    OK, OT I admit, but its been bothering me.

    I’ve been wondering about religion and the ethnic identity, or better yet, the ethnie of Westeros.

    Concerning religion: I know much of the world of ASoI&F, is drawn from medieval Europe, however it seems the religious aspects of Westerosi society resembles the Roman Empire, immediately prior to Christian domination. That is to say, the relationship between religion and government in Medieval Europe was intimate and total. The Church and Crown legitimized each other. Even after the Reformation, Northern Europe had new Churches to bestow “God’s blessing” on the Crown and its government. But it was one religion, Christianity…Christendom, dominating Medieval Europe.

    However, in Pagan Rome, religion seemed to compliment government, and not necessarily dominate. Or dominate like the Christianity of Christendom. The religion of the Caesar would become the prominent religion in the city of Rome, I think, working to some degree with the other religions in the realm. That is not say that it was totally pluralistic, the persecution of ‘certain’ Christians and other folks, can attest to that, but it was pretty tolerant, relatively speaking. Syncretism seemed to guide religious understanding. And even later, Constantine’s and Valentinian’s Christianity allowed a space for other religions. This new religion of an influential minority of the Roman elite, would share power and responsibilities with other religions, prior to its metamorphosis into Christendom.
    In other words, Westeros’ religious history seems to resemble the religious world of Rome between Constantine-Valentinian I.

    The Drowned God and the Old Gods remind me of pagan religions of Rome and the Pre-Christian religion of Northern Europe. Both The Faith and the Lord of Light, remind me of aspects of Christianity, and both, seem to have an evangelizing tradition. But I don’t know if they wish to dominate, like Medieval Christianity. Are the two faiths related at all?

    What makes this all harder, is even the category of religion, since that seems to be an Enlightenment category, we have inherited. Religion, back in the day, was not so easily compartmentalized. The boundaries around philosophy, political theory, ethnic identity and religion (did I miss anything?) seemed to be flexible, and ever-changing.

    Jeez, I’ll have to wait for my questions concerning a Westeros ethnie.

  8. […] I begin, I want to talk about a question I’ve been pondering for some time. In this chapter, Ned suffers a rather horrendous nightmare where he’s in the tombs of his […]

  9. meereeneseliberationfront says:

    I greatly enjoy reading your analyses – probably the most ambitious ASOIAF-project I know of!
    Nevertheless, I can’t quite understand the emphasis you (just as Eddard in this chapter) lay on the question of the wardens. This office has always seemed rather opaque to me – we never *see* anyone using its authority. Jaime, as the newly appointed Warden of the East, never tries to mobilize the Vale to bring down the enemies of the Crown; Mace Tyrell never orders the Dornishmen to join the fight against the Ironborn invasion. The Tyrells never seemed to have used their wardenship to claim a council seat, needing Margaery’s wedding to do that; and so on.
    What’s more, in Catelyn VI, Brynden Tully claims the Arryns have been Wardens of the East for more than 3000 years; so the title isn’t tied to the monarchy, but goes back to times way before the Targaryens’ unification of Westeros. Who, then, appointed the Arryns, the Starks, the Lannisters and the Tyrells in the first place? And what authority would they have been able to wield over the Stormlands, the Riverlands, the Dornish or the Ironborn? The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that Ned (in Eddard I) is right – the title is little more than an honor.

    • stevenattewell says:

      1. When would Jaime get the opportunity? He has to flee the capitol in A Game of Thrones, then is busy in the field in the Riverlands, is captive for the whole of A Clash of Kings, is travelling back to King’s Landing for most of A Storm of Swords, and by the time he’s back, he’s now Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and the Vale is brought under King’s Landing authority by Littlefinger.

      2. Mace Tyrell doesn’t have authority over the Dornish, because the Wardenship of the South doesn’t include Dorne; remember, Dorne wasn’t part of the Seven Kingdoms when the titles were created. Indeed, the Warden of the South would primarily have been responsible for dealing with military conflicts with Dorne. During Robert’s reign, both Tywin and the Tyrells kept their distance from Robert’s Small Council, the former because of how the sack of King’s Landing damaged his reputation in the capitol and the latter because they were former Targaryen loyalists and they’d be sitting at the same table as Stannis, the guy they tried to starve to death.

      3. It’s not three thousand years. The quote is “an office the Arryns had held for near three hundred years,” or since the time that Aegon had named them Wardens of the East in exchange for their surrender during the War of Conquest. The Starks, Arryns, Lannisters, and Tyrells were appointed by Aegon the Conqueror, and thus have royal authority over military matters. Ned says it’s little more than an honor in peacetime to try to get Robert to agree to let the Arryns keep it, but Robert argues that the position requires a “war leader” to “hold the east.” In Eddard II, we see how important Eddard thinks the office is when he says that “No one man should hold both East and West…the appointment would put half the armies of the realm into the hands of Lannisters.”

      • meereeneseliberationfront says:

        Of course you’re right – it’s three hundred, not three thousand years. Don’t know where that extra zero came from.

        Concerning the other two points… I don’t know. Jaime doesn’t have a lot of opportunity, that’s for sure, but it’s never even discussed if he couldn’t somehow make use of his office. Nor, and more importantly, does anybody think about appointing an acting Warden of the East once Jaime’s captured – even though, if it’s such a powerful office, it would have been extremely stupid to leave it vacant for months and months of civil war. Instead, Tywin swiftly reinstates Sweetrobin as Warden of the East, even though the war’s far from won.

        Also, you’re probably right that checking on Dorne used to be one of the primary responsibilities of the Warden of the South. But once Dorne’s been made part of the Seven Kingdoms, it surely falls under all of its rules? Or do you think they negotiated a special legal status concerning the wardenship?

        I’m genuinely puzzled as to how much authority really (not only de jure) came with the office. Is there truly something Ned could do as a Warden of the North that he couldn’t have done as Lord of Winterfell? The wardens, it says, command great armies, but so do the lords paramount, and when Ned (or Mace, or Tywin) calls his banners, the other lords comply not because of him being a direct representative of the King, but because of him being their liege lord. Tywin has many advantages of Hoster and Edmure in the War of the Five Kings, but I don’t think the fact that one is Warden of the East and the other isn’t is among them.

        • stevenattewell says:

          The appointment of Robert Arryn is clearly a bid for the Vale’s loyalty, otherwise they would have hung onto that.

          Dorne is a major exception to all kinds of rules – their ruler is a Prince, not a Lord Paramount; they practice cognatic primogeniture, etc.

          The authority of the Warden is that they have the right to raise armies in their quadrant and automatically outrank any other lord in that region, potentially including a Lord Paramount in their region. Hence, if there was an invasion from Essos, the Warden of the East could go around the Lords Paramount of the Vale, possibly the Stormlands and the Crownlands as well to summon troops directly, and would outrank both the Arryn and possibly the Baratheon on the field, ensuring a clear chain of command.

          The Wardenship of the East, which belonged to Jaime rather than Tywin, never came into play. However, the Wardenship of the North has with the accession of the Boltons, for example.

  10. meereeneseliberationfront says:

    The last sentence should of course read “Tywin has many advantages *over* Hoster and Edmure…”!

  11. […] on intelligence and spycraft as much as it relied on swords and armor. As Steven Attwell argues in his column, holdovers from the previous regime were hardly unusual in the real world. Their presence gave the […]

  12. Scott Trotter says:

    I’ve never understood how Jaime Lannister–a knight of the Kingsguard–could be Warden of anything. In order to be effective, wouldn’t a Warden have to actually reside in the region for which they are responsible so that they could respond to threats in a timely manner? By the same token, in order to effectively guard and serve the king, members of the Kingsguard have to be in close proximity, meaning that they have to be in Kings Landing most of the time.

    Suppose there were a seaborne invasion of the Vale of Arryn, with a Pentoshi fleet landing a Dothraki invasion force. It would take Ser Jaime weeks, if not months, to arrive on the scene to begin organizing the defense, by which time he would likely find the Dothraki in full control of the Vale with all of his potential army already besieged within their castles. Not good.

    The whole point of delegating military authority to the Wardens Cardinal (I love that title), is that the continental-sized Seven Kingdoms is too large to defend from a central location. If a Warden has to travel from the capital to the scene of the action, the King himself could just as easily do so, negating the need for a Warden in the first place.

    It seems to me that the two offices are mutually exclusive, and that one person could not effectively perform both functions without compromising one or both of his responsibilities.

    • Kingsguard can hold royal offices that don’t come with land – hence Ser Criston Cole also being Hand of the King. Also, Kingsguard don’t have to stay with the King – they are frequently sent out to command military expeditions (see the Kingswood Brotherhood) or guard other royals (see the Tourney at Ashford).

      So Ser Jaime would simply be sent to the Eyrie or to Gulltown.

      • Scott Trotter says:

        The Kingsguard side missions tend to be either short-term like Jaime’s tour of the Riverlands, or directly related to their primary function of guarding members of the royal family such as Ashford as you mentioned, or the Tower of Joy. Being named a Warden seems a little more permanent to me. A Kingsguard knight being named Hand is one thing, since he’d still in the capital most of the time, but one being named a Warden means that the King is minus one White Cloak.

        Either way, its no big deal. It’s just one of those things that always struck me as being “not right.”

  13. Joseph says:

    No “What if Robert and Ned say f- it and become traveling hedge knights by the end of the chapter?” 🙂

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