Guest Post on Tower of the Hand: The Blacks and Reds, Part I

The long-anticipated first part in a new essay series on the Blackfyre Rebellions has arrived! In this essay, I explore the origins and causes of the First Blackfyre Rebellion, both on a geopolitical and personal level, which houses fought for the Black Dragon and which for the Red, and unveil my Leo Longthorn Conspiracy theory.



133 thoughts on “Guest Post on Tower of the Hand: The Blacks and Reds, Part I

  1. Carolin says:

    I think an important thing to note is that most supporters for the Blackfyres were SECOND-TIER houses, while the Lords Paramount supporteed the Targaryens.
    If you look closely at the list of the supporters, the a lot of them had some kind of previous conflict with the house in charge of them and probably thought it was a good opportunity to right a former wrong they think had been done to them.

    For instance the large number of houses from the Reach IMO can be attributed to the fact, that the decision to make the former stewards of Highgarden the new rulers of the Reach did not sit well with most of the houses sworn to them and that other houses had better claims.

    A common pattern in most houses supporting the Blackfyres is that these houses had been historically stronger than they were at the time of the Blackfyre Rebellion. See for instance House Yronwood, who was faithful to the Blackfyres in 4 of their 5 rebellions, even though most Blackfyres were anti-Dornish. Another good example is House Osgrey, who we learn once possessed multiple castles and now was ruled over by their former bannerman.

    • Well, that was kind of what I was getting at with the comparison to the Barons’ Wars.

      I think the sentiment that the Blackfyres replacing the Targaryens would lead to an opportunity to redress grievances in the structure of feudal relationships as they had evolved over the last 200 years was very much there.

      • WPA says:

        Definite element of pure opportunism there. And from the Blackfyre perspective it gives them essentially a shadow government in waiting to fill the essential positions immediately. Each traditional rival would probably have enough manpower and arguably credible claims to take charge with a minimum of counterrevolutionary activity.

        • Agreed. You can pretty much see how it would have worked out:

          Lord Paramount of the Riverlands: House Lothston
          Lord Paramount of the Westerlands: House Reyne
          Lord Paramount of the Reach: lots of possibilities, probably House Peake.
          Prince of Dorne: House Yronwood

          • David Hunt says:

            Makes you wonder what the North would have done if the Blackfryres had come out on top. Fortify Moat Cailin and forge a new crown for the King in the North?

          • Or just bend the knee because what do they care what happens down in the South?

          • I think this is why I find the Golden Company to be such a cool concept. Not just a government in exile, or an exiled pretender to the throne, but an entire counter-aristocracy composed of banished lords and disgraced second sons and highborn bastards selling their swords and biding their time.

            Now that I think about it, they’re almost a bizzaro-Nights Watch!

          • And they can marry and have kids, perpetuating their weird system.

            Yeah, looking forward to Part IV and my theory about the Golden Company’s role in Essosi politics.

      • kury says:

        After reading your post, I suddenly thought of something that I probably should have because I’ve been a pretty regular reader…Aegon the sixth isn’t really Aegon the sixth, but a Blackfyre…or is that just crazy

  2. Carolin says:

    Adding to the post above: Looking at the number of houses supporting the Blackfyres one could draw conclusions about the legitimacy of the Lords Paramount of the regions they belong to.

    It is quite interesting to note, that the regions, where the Lords Paramounts were the kings before the conquest, have very little houses supporting the Blackfyres:

    You have two Blackfyre-supporters from the Westerlands (both the next-strongest houses to the Lannisters), and one from the Stormlands and the Vale each and none from the North (the North sat out this conflict as a whole so I am not sure one should count that).

    On the other hand the regions, where the houses of the former king is extinct or where there was no real king at the time of the conquest (at least none that came from the Riverlands) you have 13 and 7 houses respectively supporting the Blackfyres. Sure, the Reach and the Riverlands are fertile regions and therefore have a lot of houses, but the difference is much bigger than you would expect.

    • The Stormlands is the one that breaks the pattern to me.

      • Carolin says:

        Actually, IMO Baratheon rule is pretty much a continuation of the Storm Kings. Orys Baratheon’s children are the legal heirs of Argillac the Arrogant, because they are his only descendants and Orys adopted his sigil, motto and ancient seat of the region. Additionally, the Baratheon-look seems to come from the Durrendon-part of their ancestry.

        • Winnie says:

          I agree with Carolin here on all points. It does seem that Paramount Houses with longer histories as Kings, (even if it’s a maternal lineage like the Baratheons they were still the sole descendants-and Orys was also rumored to be half-Targ too,) are less likely to be rebelled against since people more or less accept their sovereignty by the right of precedence. It’s certainly been the case in the North with the Starks-except of course with the Boltons.

          • WPA says:

            Completely agree. In the case of those regions/ kingdoms, it feels, like any stability at all outright depends on those houses being in charge. Probably due to precedent, tradition, and a moral authority to settle disputes that everyone from extremely powerful lords with their own armies down to the lowest peasant intuitively understands. So rebellion requires extreme weakness or truly extraordinary circumstances for a credible alternative to take that step.

          • Carolin says:

            I think, that while there are things you can do to prevent second-tier houses from rising against you. One action, that was really brilliant in retrospect, was Jon Stark’s decision to give the land surrounding the Wolf’s Den to the Manderlys, thus making them the most powerful second-tier house (and probably wealthier than the Starks). Since the Manderlys are Southron in their religion and their demeanour there is basically no threat of them rising in rebellion against their Lords Paramount, because other houses would not support them.
            Maybe that is the reason for the Tullys being historically close to the Blackwoods: They knew they would not be accepted as LPs.

          • Winnie says:

            Good point Carolin about the brilliance of the Stark/Manderly alliance and how well that’s succeeded all these years. For that matter the Starks seem to have especially favored House Reed as well; and the Reeds being scorned by so many others as “frog-eaters” again may have played a role. The Starks showed them respect, and in turn the Reeds gave them loyalty-and could be counted on not to rebel.

            Of course that does again suggest why it was unwise to put a Bolton in a command position in Robb’s army.

            Also like your point WPA, but to me that begs the question..given the uncertain future of House Lannister, (I for one wouldn’t be surprised if they were extinguished by the time this is done,) are there any other houses in the Westernlands that could rise to fill the vacuum? Perhaps Crakehall or Lefford…

        • Iñigo says:

          I remember the queen of thorns commenting that even the Baratheons had been kings from their mothers side, and that Mace was obsessed with that. It seems that descending from kings means a lot to westerosi nobility in general, as stupid as Olenna considers it.

        • Crystal says:

          I agree: the Baratheon line continued the Storm King line in all but name. In addition, the Targaryens intermarried with the Baratheons quite a bit – it seems like Targ princesses, especially, were married to Storm Lords. So the Baratheons would have no reason to side with the Blackfyres, being that the Targaryens favored them and intermarried with them.

          • Winnie says:

            Good point about the Baratheon’s being part-Targ themselves. It was key to Robert’s Rebellion after all. In fact, while I *think* the third dragon rider will be Tyrion on Visenya (warged by Bran,) another possibility was always Stannis or even Shireen because they *do* have Valryian blood after all.

            And if that were the case it would make Dany’s head explode-but again its highly unlikely.

          • Not so much by this point. More afterward.

  3. Winnie says:

    Great essay Steve. I like all your points, but I think you might be mistaken in how much Dareon could have done to get the rest of Westeros to go along with his campaign for peace.

    I look at polls showing a majority of American’s want to go in and take the war to ISIS despite the fact that literally *every* engagement we’ve had in the Middle East for over a decade has been a total disaster and I think there’s a significant portion of the population who’s just always craving the excitement of a new war no matter how much you try to reason with them. (Hence the popularity of Fox News and why American Sniper is the People’s Choice for best movie this year.) Never underestimate the bloody mindedness of the human spirit-especially in Westeros. Ergo the Ironborn’s clinging to the Old Way despite 300 years of total failure on that score.

    Also I was not surprised to see House Frey on the list of Blackfyre supporters-no doubt they hoped that by supporting Dameon they could overthrow House Tully or at least take the place of House Blackwood. They really have always been disloyal to their liege lords. In fact looking at their history with them picking the wrong side in the Blackfyre rebellions and then not making it to the Trident it’s a little surprising they were allowed to retain as much influence as they did. Then again Boltons survived reports that they collected the skins of their liege lords. Though, I think both those Houses aren’t gonna survive the next storm.

    And I agree, the Blackfyre rebellion totally comes down to Bloodraven vs. Bittersteel.

    I like SeanC’s theory that Varys’s actions since the time of Aerys make the most sense in the context that his end game was always to put a Blackfyre on the Iron Throne.

    • There probably was a limit, but I do think he could have done more than he did. Favoring the Dornish that heavily was a bad move.

      As for the Freys, I’m sure they made sure to get out while the getting was good. We don’t see them on the Redgrass Field for example, and they made sure to get out of the Second Rebellion in the nick of time.

      • Winnie says:

        Good point about the Frey’s getting out while the getting was good…which I would argue is what happened after the Lannisters teamed up with the Tyrell’s and while Robb’s broken engagement certainly didn’t help matters it was an excuse than the primary cause.

        Walder was desperate for a way to get back into the good graces of the winning side and he found one that also offered him Riverrun and other goodies to sweeten the deal.

        • Oh absolutely. GRRM more or less confirms it in the SoSpakeMartin binge I did. Walder was always going to betray Robb Stark – the only thing that the engagement breaking changed was how vicious it was going to be.

          • Winnie says:

            You’d be surprised though, how many people *do* deny it. Especially at

            Hell, I’ve even heard from people there who *defend* Walder’s actions.

          • Crystal says:

            I think that Roose and Walder were both hedging their bets from the beginning. If Theon had not betrayed Robb, and Winterfell not been taken, that backstabbing would have been longer in coming, certainly. Or if Lysa had allowed the Vale to side with the North in the war, ditto. I don’t think that Robb was destined to lose – there were a lot of dominoes to fall. But, I think that even if Robb had kicked ass and taken names and smashed the Lannisters, that Roose and Walder would have been waiting for *some* opportunity, somewhere, maybe even years down the road.

          • True. If Robb won, I’m sure Roose would have continued to weaken his neighbors, try to grab as much good lands and marriages as he could, and Walder would have started pushing for the marriage and then appointing Freys to everything.

  4. Grant says:

    The Kingsguard and refused appointments raises a question. Was Daeron foolishly antagonizing notable men and pushing them to the Blacks, or did he realize that they were probably the militarist sort his father had liked, and didn’t dare trust them with his life in such an uncertain time?

    • Winnie says:

      That is a bit of a chicken and the egg question isn’t it?!?

      I mean the Republicans have lately been complaining that Obama isn’t “willing to reach across the aisle” to them, but that is amazingly hypocritical because for years and years they did everything to obstruct him in a truly unprecedented manner, until the administration basically concluded it was impossible to make a deal or with the opposition so they started cutting them out completely.

      Not a perfect analogy by any means, but I could see Dareon deciding that certain persons with militarist views, just weren’t worth the trouble to have around. It might *not* have been the best possible but it would certainly be an understandable one.

      • Crystal says:

        Put this way, I can see where Daeron might have been coming from. He might well have started out wanting to be a conciliator like Jaehaerys I but, facing obstruction or disdain at every turn, he might have given up on the pro-Daeron lords and shut them out of power.

        • Winnie says:

          Yeah, I mean we all know Obama originally had this vision of himself as being a Great Uniter in the White House who could bridge the gap between conservatives and liberals. (Which in retrospect was both naïve and arrogant on his part.)

          At a certain point though, reality sunk in and Obama became a *lot* more antagonistic in the way he dealt with-and talked about-the Right.

          • Crystal says:

            And, come to think of it, Jaehaerys I had three things that Daeron did not: 1) Septon Barth, 2) Good Queen Alysanne (who was NOT Dornish) and, most importantly, 3) dragons. Even without the help of Barth and Alysanne, having dragons meant that Jaehaerys could make his nobles bend to his will in a way that poor old dragon-less Daeron could not.

          • Winnie says:

            Excellent Points Crystal. I really enjoyed reading about Jaehaerys, (who was clearly quite a guy,) and one of his smartest moves was to surround himself with such smart people like the brilliant Septon and his very astute Queen who gave such good advice, (like strengthening the NW and eliminating that awful First Night tradition.) It seems to me that future rulers of Westeros could learn a lot by styling themselves on *that* trinity of power.

            In fact I have a vague theory how it could happen in the future, but it’s way speculative.

            Though, again it certainly helps to have the dragons to back it up. Poor Rodrik Harlaw is obviously the wisest most foresighted person in all the Iron Islands but sadly he has no power with which to make his fellow Iron Born listen to reason. Not yet anyway….hmmm.

        • I don’t get that sense. Keep in mind, Daeron’s political formation came in the running clashes with his father and their respective coalitions. Daeron acted pretty swiftly to oust the old regime in favor of his own men.

    • Mix of both? Ser Quentyn was clearly an incredibly gifted knight, but his fiery temper was probably a bad fit for his king. Also, Daeron was trying to oust his father’s cronies and didn’t like the idea of having one of his father’s men guarding his back, especially one who had probably been the closest thing to a father Daemon had until he was 12.

      • Winnie says:

        Sorta like how Aerys panicked when he realized that his spiteful move to deprive Tywin of his heir by appointing Jaime to the KG, meant that now Tywin’s eldest son would be around him at all times with a *sword*. And as it turned out that fear wasn’t misplaced…

        • Sort of, yeah. It’s very much a double-edged sword: appoint him, and Daemon’s got a sword at your back. Deny him, and Daemon’s got a kickass general.

        • David Hunt says:

          I think the problem with Aerys’ paranoia about Jaime being justified is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Aerys hadn’t been a paranoid loon, then I think that Jaime’s sense of honor would have compelled him to stay loyal. He kept his vows through Aerys abusing his wife, burning high nobles alive WITHOUT TRIAL, and God knows what else that I’ve forgotten. It took a plot to murder half a million people to make him turn. I think that if Aerys had simply decided to hold King’s Landing and the Red Keep as long as possible without the insane Burn The Whole City to Ground Plan, that Jaime would have stuck with him, gone down personally defending Aerys against the people that came for him, and been remembered as an honored brother of the Kingsguard who gave his life defending his king.

          But Aerys WAS batshit insane, and simultaneously gave the order for the death of the whole city AND Jaime’s own father, specifically. We know how that ended.

          Also, Jaime was one of only seven people that Aerys would allow in his presence with anything remotely sharp. For whatever reason, Aerys seemed to trust Jaime once he had the white cloak

          • Crystal says:

            I agree with you there. After all, Jaime *did* express disagreement with Aerys’ “right” to rape his wife, but he didn’t actually *do* anything. Nor did he do anything when Aerys burnt a Lord Paramount, that lord’s heir, and, later, his own Hand, alive. It was, as you said, Aerys’ plan to commit genocide, essentially, that got Jaime to act.

            If Kingsguard were in the habit of killing Kings they just plain didn’t like we’d have seen a lot more kingslayers. Daeron certainly wasn’t the kind of man who would commit the kind of insane cruelty that drove Jaime to murder Aerys.

            And even if Ball, having been made Kingsguard, decided to murder Daeron to put Daemon on the throne – would it be worth the opprobrium that a “Kingslayer” would garner, especially since Ball didn’t have Lannister gold and Lannister Lord Paramount power at his back? (I bet Robert would have sent Jaime to the Wall, or at least dismissed him, if it wasn’t for the fact that he needed Tywin Lannister and his $$$ to help prop up his rule.) And what kind of precedent would keeping known kingslayers in a king’s personal guard set? It might lead to a situation like imperial Russia where the Army could play a huge part in making and breaking monarchs.

          • Yeah that’s true. Maybe he was just afraid of a spy?

          • WPA says:

            Jamie stayed loyal until Aerys basically gave him a choice before becoming a Kinslayer or becoming a Kingslayer. That’s pretty high on the devil vs the deep blue sea list.

          • Grant says:

            You can’t be sure, especially when civil war is increasingly likely, that someone with serious reason to be opposed to you will really be held back by tradition. Alternatively of course there’s also the threat of spies, but I don’t think you need to be Bloodraven to feel that the king should be guarded by men who really can be relied on to guard the king.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        The fact that Fireball put aside his lawful wedded wife – FORCED her to take the veil by all accounts – is hardly likely to endear him to King Daeron the Second, given that the latter spent a considerable part of his youth protecting his Mother from having much the same fate inflicted upon.

        Not that Queen Naerys would have objected to being allowed to take up her vocation, but I suspect that it would have killed her to be cast aside in dishonour; I wonder if the wife of Ser Quentin felt much the same?

        • Hadn’t thought of that. Good pick.

        • Crystal says:

          I really wonder if the reason that Naerys made so little trouble for Aegon the Unworthy was because she was so sickly. (I imagine her having something like multiple sclerosis or chronic fatigue syndrome which left her tired and bereft of energy.) Unwanted wives who won’t go gentle into that convent could actually give their husbands a LOT of trouble in real life – just ask Catherine of Aragon. Or Catherine the Great of Russia, who booted her husband off the throne and took it for herself.

          It makes me wonder how easy and common it was to get rid of a wife in Westeros. If it *was* as easy as making her “take the gray” on a husband’s command, we’d probably see fewer childless marriages or ones with only daughters. And Walder Frey would no doubt have racked up even more marriages than what he has now. I think there were probably circumstances in Ball’s case – such as having Daemon Blackfyre back him up.

          • Well, we don’t know anything about divorce law, so it’s hard to say.

          • Grant says:

            We don’t know what the circumstances of having someone do that are exactly. It might be generally difficult, which is why it’s more often used as an occasional threat/tactic to get rid of a noblewoman who’s disliked than done by most people even among nobility. I think we can also safely assume that it’s discouraged from being done too often by the Faith on the grounds that they would have to pay to support the new Sisters and they don’t want to get dragged into too many petty noble squabbles.

  5. Carolin says:

    I know, this is a bit off-topic but I nevertheless think it is worth mentioning: One of the most fundamental lessons from the Blackfyre-Rebellions is about the behaviour of the second-tier houses of Westeros, namely that these houses were willing to support someone with a fishy claim if they thought it would benefit them.
    Suppose, this is true for any house (and I think it is), then this means, that every potential ruler of Westeros has to figure out how other houses might gain from him/her being king/queen.

    That is what I see as a massive problem for Dany, because IMO she thinks, that the houses of Westeros will support her, just because she has a good claim and not because they think they will gain something from her being queen.

    • Grant says:

      It depends on the circumstances when she arrives. Besides the sheer potent symbolism of a Targaryen ruler returning with dragons, she isn’t part of any of the struggles in Westeros (besides obviously being against any figure being an obstacle to her taking the throne when she arrives) and has the opportunity to argue that she’s there to end the civil strife that’s engulfed the continent.

      So unless someone else has already done a good job of that before she got there, many of them might decide to at least be neutral and not rebel without cause and realistic chance of success.

      • Winnie says:

        Also it’s noteworthy that these other smaller houses didn’t dare rebel until *after* the Targs lost their dragons.

        A Targ with dragons is something to fear indeed.

        Moreover, the invasion of the Others could change a LOT of things VERY quickly to the point where people might be willing to accept ANY potential ruler who could save them from the Undead army.

        Of course that might also be a route for Jon Snow to take the IT. *Might*.

    • That’s pretty much the story of feudalism right there. A system based around the person at the top giving out power to the people below them tends to promote self-serving behavior.

      • Winnie says:

        Kinda OT, Steve, but have you ever read any of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber?!? The earlier books were better written and better characterized but I think that Weber, (despite having a great understanding of naval warfare) got a LOT wrong about politics and economic history, and I’d LOVE a chance to discuss it with you.

        • Winnie says:

          Though one direct parallel between the series is that I must say Weber has a rather…idealized view of the virtues of monarchies which needless to say the ASOIAF franchise has done a very, VERY good job of debunking.

          And while Weber doesn’t shy from depicting the gory nature of war, he never seems to admit some other painful truths either like both sides in every war commit atrocities, (and yes that would include the wonderful blessed Star Kingdom of Manticore,) and in the early books his contempt for anyone who believed in diplomacy over warfare or preferred civilian agencies to the military was absolutely stupendous. Anyone who thought a political/diplomatic solution to the problem was preferable to fighting was depicted as a coward, a fool, corrupt or some combination thereof. Whereas HERE we get a series that suggests that the political deals in the end matter more than anything that happens on the battlefield and that except with extreme situations like the problem of The Others, it’s always better to at least *try* to avoid letting it come to open war. (Not hard to guess which viewpoint, I’m more inclined to agree with.)

          Let’s just say the two series make for a very, VERY interesting contrast and not just because one’s a medieval fantasy and the other’s a futuristic space opera.

        • No, I haven’t. I’ve read a little of them, but I got seriously tired of David Weber with the whole 1632 series.

          • Winnie says:

            I’ve heard of that one, but I don’t know much of the particulars there…

            just checking it out on Wikipedia, and it looks to me even without reading the books that Weber/Flint were being WAY too optimistic about the ability of the townsfolk to survive and even thrive in their change of circumstances thanks to *superior technology*.

          • Grant says:

            It is definitely too optimistic. Now, credit where it’s due, the 1630s are a time period where I actually could see the idea of democracy being very popular among the lower classes to fill in the space left by the nobles from the devastation the wars have inflicted. It’s just that it makes the incredible leap of many other vital elite figures being willing to work with the time-displaced Americans and these new pro-democracy groups being actually able to organize themselves and spread the message all over Central and Eastern Europe (remember, in a matter of years, not even five years).

            Then there’s the technological, organizational and bureaucratic leaps being made in years at most (I remember a Spaniard officer complaining about all the paperwork he has now) even though we’re seeing nothing nearly so world shaking as, say, the Napoleonic Wars.

            That isn’t to say that it’s terrible. It’s alright I suppose, so long as you’re willing to set aside the part of your mind that tells you that there’s no way they could be having this kind of impact this quickly (seriously, some of these major changes happen in under a year) and ignore a few characters that I’d say are a certain step away from being Mary Sues.

  6. Andrew says:

    A fantastic essay once again Steven, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series. However I’d like to draw your attention to a small typo at the end of it: “Unfortunately for de Montfort, Henry’s son, the future Edward II was a better soldier than his father”. I take it you mean Edward I and not Edward II.

    • Yeah, should be fixed now.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I must admit that I remain more than a little convinced that the mutual distaste between Richard II and Henry of Lancaster (later Henry IV) is a closer match for the antipathy between King Daeron II and Ser Daemon, but I must say Maester Steven that your comparison of the Blackfyre Rebellion with the Barons War is far more apt when it comes to the political situation (although from what I gather King Daeron II was far less of a vir simplex than Henry III – also for all his spindly physique I suspect that King Daeron yielded nothing to his namesake and still less to his rival half-brother in terms of sheer courage and steely resolution).

  7. Winnie says:

    I’d also like to comment that I feel like race may have played an even more important role in anti-Dornish sentiment than Steve acknowledges. Baelor Breakspear is as Steve notes, about as traditionally perfect a knight as Westeros can find and yet, his Martell looks were a problem for him. Moreover, Aerys (despite choosing Elia over say Cersei for Rhaegar) was known to complain that she and her children smelled Dornish.

    Good old-fashioned bigotry really seemed to be playing a role there.

    • Crystal says:

      I agree about race – and I’ll add misogyny and homophobia. Those uppity Dornish sluts will corrupt our women and give them Ideas! And since gay and lesbian relationships are accepted in Dorne, some of those manly knights might have been afraid that a Dornishman would hit on them, ew, gross, no homo! (I think Renly and Loras really had to keep it on the down-low, though it seems to have been an open secret in many quarters.)

      • Winnie says:

        Good point, Crystal. The Dornish’s more progressive ideas about gender and sexuality, (don’t forget women can inherit before men!) must have been very, VERY threatening indeed to a lot of believers in Westeros’s ‘traditional’ read patriarchal society.

        After all the Faith Militant didn’t just spring out of thin air; there were deep cultural elements going on there.

    • It certainly was a very powerful factor, I was more trying to correct analyses that describe it as being the only factor.

      And it’s complicated by the pro-Blackfyre faction in Dorne.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I think that talking about the semi-Racist aspects of anti-Dornish sentiment across the Seven Kingdoms does risk marginalising the genuine historical grievances (on both sides of the Marches) and still more the proto-Nationalist aspects of the old grudges and prejudices apparent in this whole unfortunate business.

        I should also like to note that if sons AND daughters AND the illegitimate can inherit then there’s a much larger pool of potential heirs, therefore a much greater risk involved in claiming an inheritance – consider the case of purple-born Anna Komnenina and all the difficulties she gave her brother The Roman Emperor or Don Enrique of Trastamara, who made himself King of Castille by killing his trueborn sibling King Peter.

        While there are reasons less grounded in common sense than a fear of widening the pool of potential rival claimants to Westerosi bias, its perhaps not unfair of Lordlings to fear the prospect of adding new sharks to their list of worries.

        As a note I’m quite impressed that the relatively-liberal inheritance laws of Dorne have not resulted in the problems of divided inheritances that The Welsh were obliged to confront when such generous Inheritance Laws reigned there.

        • I’d qualify this a bit. I don’t think talking about racism risks anything – I think talking only about it and nothing else does risk obscuring some factors.

          • Abbey Battle says:

            That is a very fair point; I did not intend to marginalise the discussion of Racism as part of the Dornish experience, but I do honestly think that ‘Nationalism’ is a more accurate term for the particular species of bigotry displayed towards them.

            The distaste seems to be grounded more in History and Culture than in Phrenology; more like the grudges between the Medieval English and Scots (or Welsh) than that between Saracen and European.

          • The way I see it is that we have to be mindful of systems of power – there is a distinction between racism and bigotry. Do the Westerosi have power over the Dornish? No, not really.

          • Winnie says:

            Fair points Abbey, but as someone whose maternal side is Irish, you’d be surprised how far Nationalist bigotry can go. Basically the British for a long, LONG time, considered the Irish to be a separate race, (there’s a book about this called “How the Irish Became White,”) and weren’t even that far from considering them a somewhat separate species slightly lower on the evolutionary ladder.

          • Yeah, the Irish/British thing. Or for that matter, Southern vs. Yankee in the U.S.

        • WPA says:

          That inheritance structure and the Dornish reputation for skill with poison are probably not entirely unrelated.

  8. djinn says:

    Great work. It really shines light into the roots of the Blackfyre movement and the importance that personal issues have at a royal level.

  9. KrimzonStriker says:

    Great essay as always Steven. Some minor points I want to get into about it though.

    I could see the Leo maybe promising neutrality to Daemon at most initially, but actually secretly committing his forces is a stretch considering how precarious their position in the Reach is and how dependent the Tyrells were on Targaryean patronage for that position. The Tyrell’s have only been going at it with Dorne personally for the last few hundred years, they don’t have the thousands of years of animosity like Marcher lords do. With so many claimants in the Reach, especially Peake being one of Daemon’s right hand men, whatever their beef with Dorne it doesn’t equal the threat to their very existence from the Blackfyres. As soon as Daemon mustered north with the bulk of his forces I’d immediately turn on him by going south, using as I said before the Mander as my screen, then hammer everything between me, Dorne, and Storm’s End and conveniently keeping my forces away from the heaviest areas of fighting.

    Also, I feel Daeron did make some effort to placate the anti-dornish feelings if we use his treatment of Daemon as a measuring stick, which is indicated by how he kept the royal incomes for ALL the other Great Bastards going including Bittersteel. Daemon even jousted at Danery’s wedding after all and I think George has definitely done some revisionism of that story considering in that same quote the wedding was supposed to be the final straw that set the rebellion off when now it was 7-8 years before Daemon rebelled. Sponsoring Daemon like Viserys did with his namesake actually has some merit but I could see Daeron’s distaste and attempts at discouraging war in general preventing that idea from occurring. At the same time he also made sure to always keep Daemon close, I mean Daemon was IN the Red Keep when Daeron tried to arrest him and Fireball had taught Daeron’s sons along with Daemon as well. Sometimes two policies are just irreconcilable and however much some people might try to deny it war is sometimes just the inevitable outcome for us imperfect humans. But I can concede your point that Daeron might have tried a little harder to either placate or squash this potential uprising given how many years he had to work on this. At the same time I think JON should get more slack from you considering he had only a few months, not years, to enact his wild-ling policy.

    • I want to push back on this: “The Tyrell’s have only been going at it with Dorne personally for the last few hundred years, they don’t have the thousands of years of animosity like Marcher lords do.”

      1. The Tyrells have been fighting for thousands of years, as bannermen of the Gardeners. Believe me, they wouldn’t have been happy when the Dornish burned Highgarden.

      2. They’ve lost the most, the most recently. Grandfathers if not fathers, uncles and cousins, certainly. And a huge amount of power – Leo’s predecessor was regent of Dorne and one of Daeron I’s closest advisers.

      “Also, I feel Daeron did make some effort to placate the anti-dornish feelings if we use his treatment of Daemon as a measuring stick.” I don’t think we can conflate the two – Daeron treated his immediate relatives with an even hand, but the same wouldn’t apply to the lesser lords, and we know his change of regime left a lot of people tossed out of office.

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        1. Bannermen is a stretch, the Tyrells didn’t have personal men to draw levies from or command, they were the stewards and while yes they had would have fought the Dornish from time to time their main job would have been to stay and manage Highgarden for the Gardeners.

        2. I got the impression the lords that got tossed out had to do with their competence and issues of corruption more then anything if we look to Ambrose as an example of one person good at their job that Daeron kept over from the previous regime. I don’t see how you reconcile that kind of favortism versus running a functional government.

        • 1. From time to time includes probably dying in large numbers when Highgarden got sacked.

          2. I disagree. We’re told that Aegon IV deliberately encouraged anti-Dornish sentiment and looked to the Reach and the Stormlands for supporters against his son’s faction.

          • Space Oddity says:

            And the Tyrells were the Lord Stewards. The image of them as just a bunch of guys who took care of the castle while the King was away is largely a myth that the Peakes, and Florents, et al, promote as they try and make it seem like a horrid injustice that this family is in power now.

          • KrimzonStiker says:

            Sorry, been a bit busy to respond

            1. One sacking out of several sieges and direct battles for thousands of years the Dornish Marches blunt for the Reach’s interior on the whole, and could just as easily be blamed on the bannermen like the Peakes for weakening the Reach with a civil war. Plus Unlike the in-firmed king the Tyrells would have actually been able to escape which it looks like they did. All I’m saying is in terms of priority dangers, the claimants against the Tyrells represent a much more direct threat to their existence then Dorne , in fact you could almost thank the Dornish for the Tyrell’s success since it finally got them into direct blood ties into the Gardner line.

            2. All that indicates is Aegon IV’s attitude on the matter, but there’s no indication Daeron used that as a basis himself to discriminate against his appointments. If we agree Daeron was a good government type then he has plenty of other reasons/basis for dismissing those men considering the blatant corruption and bribed patronage during Aegon IV’s reign. Of do you think most of Aegon IV’s previous appointees came by their position honestly? I mean if it didn’t stop Daeron from once again keeping Butterwell or in honoring Daemon I’m having trouble seeing the consistency between those cases and specifically targeting anti-dornish/pro-war activist if they weren’t also still good at their job. That doesn’t strike me as being fair or even-handed as he’s often depicted.

            Speaking of I wanted to clarify on a point regarding the Brackens and Aegor Rivers with you, because it ties back to a previous discussion on tumblr we had regarding Dorne and Rhaegar and him actually being able to set Elia aside. Based on what I read it doesn’t seem like the Brackens were advocating divorce from Aegon IV specifically, but were anticipating that Naerys was going to die and were setting Barba up to take her place once that happened. Only when Naerys recovered did the Brackens attempts flounder. Honestly, I haven’t found a case of divorce since the Andals came into power ( the old gods are probably a bit more flexible since polygamy makes its way in a few examples, plus the whole religious transition would have seen previous old god marriages as heretical/non-binding anyway) and the only cited basis for it was when the wife failed to bear any children as was the case of Prince Daemon petitioning Viserys on his marriage to Lady Rhoyce. And none of them ever had examples of displacing the previously established heir/children from the succession simply on the basis of that remarriage.

          • KrimzonStiker says:

            Oh, and one more basis that I wanted to make regarding Daeron’s appointments is the line regarding competing with the Dornishmen for the King’s favor. Competing means they’re actually participating in a competition, which indicates they’re not being frozen out of the government I would think.

          • 1. I really disagree. You can see today that the Tyrells loathe the Martells, and the only recent incident was Willas’ leg – here we’re talking about the Lord of Highgarden being murdered in his own bed and tens of thousands of his men (and remember from Catelyn II that when the Tyrells show up for a fight they bring their cousins and nephews and uncles) being killed in guerrilla warfare, on top of everything else that happened between the Reach (where the Tyrells were living for thousands of years) and Dorne.

            2. It wasn’t a basis, it didn’t have to be. Daeron removed his father’s followers from power, with the exception of Butterwell. The odds are very very good that a bunch of those people were Reachermen who Aegon IV was reaching out to for support in his wars with Dorne.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            But you don’t see them pushing for war with Dorne over it now. But taking into account all those factors I once again have to remind you of your own point regarding Leo and his actions. If we accept his cynical smile and your theory that he waited the whole rebellion out. Yes there are grievances, but those grievances don’t supplant a Houses interests in the present in terms of a matter of survival, which the claimant lords of the Reach are versus the grudges against Dorne. Those lords aren’t just rebelling because of Dorne, there’s also the promises of power involved that Daemon needs to pay back and what better prize then Highgarden? In the face of that does Dorne rationally seem like something to fixate on when Daemon threatens to upset the balance of power so much that all the other Lord Paramounts can see it affecting them too, not just the Targaryeans.

            2. All likely true. Which goes back to my original question of how you reconcile Daeron’ s need to clean up his government versus appeasing lickspittles and corrupt officers, amongst count more then one example that willngly served up their daughters or any other female relative to Aegon IV and his appetites. These do not sound like people fit for their offices especially if they signed on to such folly as wooden dragons. I’m not trying to argue for the sake of it, I’m genuinely curious as to what the solutions to that conundrum where you risk the possibility of rebellion on one hand and threaten to sabotage your kingdom through too many compromises on the other week as how this relates to our previous conversation with Jon Snow.

          • 1. No, now they’re only stabbing Dornishmen any time they have to live in the same city and blaming Oberyn for Willas’ crippling and freaking out at the thought of a Dornish wedding party entering the Reach. And that’s after 100+ years of peace between the Tyrells and Dorne. A few years after the Lord of Highgarden and his kinfolk are murdered in Dorne? We’re told explicitly in the text of hatred in the Reach. The Tyrells do not possess an immunity to that.

            2. Was Quentyn Ball a lickspittle and corrupt officer or an incredibly competent general who disagreed with Daeron over policy and lost an office that the Iron Throne had promised him? Were all of the lords of the Reach and the Stormlands?

        • KrimzonStriker says:

          1. And I fully acknowledge that the Tyrell’ s do not like Dorne. But that’s still a step below to when you’re dealing with your houses very survival as people who have bent the knee to hated enemies can attest, which isn’t the same thing with the Tyrell’ s since they OWE their rise in position to the Targaryeans. I’m just saying that while Dorne is a blood feud with a lot of history it’s still not the direct threat so many of the Tyrell bannermen are. If I have a choice between killing a hated enemy at the expense of my life and my loved ones versus having to live with that enemy but ensure my life and my families I won’t like the latter but I’d pick it. Not to say I don’t agree that Leo was self-serving but those self-interests to me seem best served remaining a loyalist if a quieting, more then a rebel.

          2. It’s not like Daeron Fired Qunetyn like the others, he sent his two sons to train with him after all and kept him within the royal household given Daemon’ s escap. And as I said the term Competing with Dornish influence suggests that the Marcher lords weren’t frozen out of the government or something, they just didn’t have the same authority they used to like under Aegon IV.

          • 1. That assumes that the lesser houses were actually promised the LP position – and still leaves open why we don’t see the Tyrells anywhere during the War. However, I really don’t think you can look at these books and say that recent blood feuds don’t motivate people to act, even when against their immediate political interests.

            2. You can lose a competition. “Daeren brought many Dornishmen to court” suggests that the Dornish were there in force. Add that to the fact that Aegon IV relied on the Stormlords and Reachermen and that Daeron had done a clean sweep, and it looks pretty conclusive.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            1. That LP position means a a lot to those vassals especially, I don’t see how Daemon gets away with not promising it in some fashion, especially to Peake given how much Daemon seemed to rely on him. I mostly agree with you Leo sat out of the conflict and penned himself in Highgarden until Daemon left for the Westerlands, conserving his strength versus doing something foolish like trying to confront Daemon directly with theTyrell’ s cut off as they were, but neutrality still seems less risky versus actually secretly promising Daemon his support. Then to squash any waffling tongues in the loyalist camp I’d see him Try to squash houses south of the Mander while Daemon was up north, like the Florents which might explain why the Florents are so weak by the time of the war of the Five Kings, and thus conveniently putting Leo out of harms way during Redgrass. I’m not disagreeing there but there’s a difference between political risk and suicide, for all their bad blood even Mace is concedes the point to Kebab about not wanting to drive Dorne into Aegon’ s cause, so you can’t be idiots about it and there are also expected rewards to come with that risk, it’s not like Leo could expect that old regent title we’ve been alking about considering the Yronwoods joined Daemon’ s cause.

            2. A clean sweep based more on Aegon IV’ s corruption then anything I think. Daeron married his heir to a Dondarrion, so I can’t see him having a specific bias based on regional history of the marchers, even when he disagreed with them policy wise.

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        Gah, forgot to to coment about the recent lost portion. All very true in terms of recent losses, though how much cynical Leo cares about that is up for debate regarding the contrasting impressions we get of his character. But the term regent functions as a temporary title generally. Given that Daeron actually took the hostages he meant for the Dornish lords (otherwise why bother having hostages to lords that won’t be there?) to still remain for the most part and simply put Lyonel Tyrell in to see the integration process through.

        • How temporary is unclear, but there’s a lot of power and patronage to be held in the meantime as viceroys. A good comparison is the French territories doled out to English lords during the wake of the major victories of the 100 Years War – they really cared about losing them, even though they didn’t hold them for very long.

          • KrimzonStiker says:

            But the premise/expectation between the two is totally different, those English Lords were anticipating they would get to keep those territories in perpetuity, the regent title doesn’t suggest that was the case with Lyonel and seems mostly as an administrative title, one with a huge number of perks true, but still on the basis of being an appointed office and not a hereditary right to be passed on through ones family.

          • Come on, you don’t think a smart regent doesn’t figure out how to make money and power out of the deal?

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            Quite true, but only in so far as the title sticks, there’s no basis for the Tyrells to have constipation over losing a non-hereditary role that was never expected to last. I could see them getting upset over a lot of other things regarding what happened in Dorne, but losing a temporary title that seemed more trouble then it’s worth doesn’t seem as high on the list.

          • Why shouldn’t some title last, exactly? They’re the Wardens of the South, they stood at Daeron’s right hand – that kind of service is typically rewarded in acres by the thousand.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            That didn’t exactly happen under Aegon I, the policy of assimilation is rather important to the Targaryean success…

          • But Daeron I isn’t Aegon I, and even then Aegon was picking favorites when it came to the Riverlands, the Reach, etc.

            It’s a feudal society, you don’t get tens of thousands of men to fight and die without giving them stuff in return.

        • KrimzonStriker says:

          A ton of gold/plunder could suffice, plus there’s also the nationalist ideal of Aegon I for a United Westeros possibly having begun to sink in. I’m not saying minor lordship might not have been dispensed but permanent dominion of Dorne seems a bit much to expect, if for no other reason then a power balance argument…

  10. djinn says:

    I would like to offer my support to your Longthorn theory. It’s actually a common theme for the Tyrell’s to never seriously commit to any one side and hedge bets so that they can always be on the winning side: Faith militant gather a army at Bitterbridge but the local LP doesn’t crush it, Hightowers gather a pro-Green army but Rowan leads the charge against them, Robert’s Rebellion reaches it pinnacle battle but Mace sits outside SE, Wot5K rages on and the Reach starves KL from afar and attacks Stannis following Tywin and defeats the Northmen in a planned ambush by Roose and follows the Westermen into Dragonstone.
    It’s ironic how Walder and his family get so much grief over this sort of behavior but then again, they are only amateurs.

    • Winnie says:

      Oooh….*excellent* point djinn. The Tyrell’s are great fence sitters too but they have better pr, (doesn’t hurt that they don’t resemble weasels either.)

      Of course, while they’ve been very careful so far I think their luck may be about to run out now that they’ve entangled themselves so thoroughly with the Lannister’s-especially since Cersei’s a paranoid nutjob who has it in for them and they have Iron Born harassing their coasts. Frankly, in their shoes, I’d be looking for a way to get out NOW and go back to Highgarden, to mind the store so to speak during the coming storm.

      • djinn says:

        Thanks. It always struck me how the Tyrell’s rarely lead anything but always join in following someone else, considering that several civil wars have there genesis in the Reach; Faith uprising, Dance, Blackfyre. How is it that they are never punished or blamed for any of it? Because they play both sides and leaves themselves a out. But now, the Lannisters are a mess and it’s time for the Tyrell’s to step to the front. Not sure if they know how to do it.

        • Winnie says:

          It’s going to be very, VERY interesting to see what happens there isn’t it? And even besides the difficulties with the Lannister’s they’re going to have fAegon, Iron Born, Dany, and of course what’s Beyond the Wall.

          It does worry me, that generally Roses don’t fare well in Winter.

  11. JT says:

    Fantastic essay!

    You really show the limits of feudalism in producing and sustaining a national identity, and how unstable “Westeros” (the kingdom) is.

    It’s fairly amazing that the Targaryens managed to hold Westeros together without dragons. In a world where the Others and Dany weren’t threats, I could see Westeros splintering into kingdoms over the next 10 – 15 years.

    Out of curiosity, how come no lord paramount/King of the West (I’m using the west here, since they have the gold to actually do this) ever used their gold to employ a standing army? They could certainly afford it and you would if Tywin or any of his ancestors had ever funded even a 7-8k soldier standing army, they’d be able to keep their vassals in much better check.

  12. Abbey Battle says:

    Maester Steven, please allow me to congratulate you on a particularly splendid article; The Blackfyre Rebellions have fascinated me ever since I first glimpsed the account of Redgrass Field given as a taste of THE SWORD SWORD graphic novel and it is a fascination that has yet to leave me.

    I retain my right to quibble concerning details, but on the whole I agree with your contentions (and have indeed been swayed by your arguments concerning what has to be at the very least the inaction of House Tyrell until the last stages of the First Blackfyre Rebellion – it would seem Lord Mace comes by his favourite strategy honestly!).

    -If I might take the liberty of suggesting something, I am inclined to believe that the relative lack of conciliation shown by Daeron the Second towards the more hawkish of his subjects might derive from his inability to shower them with the largesse they would have demanded as the price of their being placated; we know for a fact that Aegon the Unworthy, Baelor the Beloved and Daeron the Young Dragon all spent money as though it were going out of style which is likely to have left the Crown seriously in debt, as well as the treasury bare.

    My guess would be that Aegon the Fourth parted with other financial assets with alarming casualness (consider his gift of the dragon egg to Lord Butterwell), so given this and the aforementioned generation of financial impecuniousness I would think it unlikely King Daeron the Second could afford the sort of expensive conciliation you advocate (Wars of Conquest are EXPENSIVE when your troublesome little brother lacks a dragon as a force multiplier); more to the point sending Ser Daemon in the direction of a short, victorious campaign would simply be throwing oil, not water on the sparks of rebellion.

    In return for allowing Ser Daemon to accrue additional political capital as “The Warrior Himself” King Daeron gets … well, he gets accused of shirking while Daemon went to war.

    I would also like to note that there’s no guarantee that The King Beyond the Wall was enough of a threat prior to the Blackfyre Rebellion for it to be plausible that Ser Daemon would consider him a foe worth travelling from South to North to fight against; there is, after all, no comparable ‘Jerusalem Fever’ to propel guest-crusaders to fight alongside the Night’s Watch in the same way that Henry IV was so eager to wage war in Lithuania alongside the Teutonic Knights before he came into his Kingdom.

    -Finally I would like to compliment you on producing a fascinating character sketch of King Daeron II whom I continue to admire; he may have moved a little too far and too fast, but it should be noted that he could hardly afford to delay in bringing an end to Dorne as a bleeding ulcer on the body politic of the Seven Kingdoms – by bringing the Principality of the South into The Realm he doubtless freed The Crown from the expense of maintaing defences in the area, which was likely to prove extremely helpful in his quest to Balance the Books (I suspect that he, his royal Grandfather and Henry VII would have made a fine board of directors for any bank!).

    It is also interesting to note that at least so far as the Stormlords are concerned he was energetic in his conciliation of them – two of his sons married Houses of the Storm-lands (one of them his own heir), a concentration of princely matrimony in a single area which I believe to be nearly unprecedented (it should also be noted that of his four sons only one and the youngest one at that married a Dornish Lady).

    Still, I agree that he was perhaps ever more The Wise Prince than Prince Charming; I still rather like him, not least for his consistent refusal to truckle to his Unworthy Sire (even in the face of threatened disinheritance) and his spirited defence of his mother.

    Charm Ser Daemon seems to have had, but for all his proofs of physical courage I have yet to read any evidence of MORAL courage on his part comparable to that shown by his half-brother.

    • 1. Well, money costs but offices don’t.

      2. Jerusalem Fever wasn’t spontaneous though, it was constructed.

      3. I forgot about the Penrose marriage, possibly because it wasn’t consummated. And the Arryn match is also a good point.

      4. Moral courage is hard to pin down. Did Daeron show moral courage by exiling his half-brother Aegor from court? Or was that self-interest?

      • Abbey Battle says:

        1. It does not cost money to grant someone an office, true, but it can prove very costly if the wrong man for the job is set to do it anyway as part of a bargaining process – given what seems to have been the general wreckage of the Monarchy and its institutions under Aegon IV it seems not unfair that King Daeron would be EXTREMELY choosy.

        3.Thank you kindly for the compliment!

        4. Both moral courage AND self interest; it takes considerable nerve to make an enemy of a man as formidable as Ser Aegor Rivers and even more to maintain consistent policies over time in the face of increasing opposition – on the other hand it is easy to see the advantage of separating Ser Daemon from Ser Aegor to King Daeron.

        Still, while the phenomenon is rare, it is possible to square morality with self-interest; consider King Daeron’s willingness to honour King Aegon the Fourth’s bequests to the letter – a shrew stroke of policy that helps dissipate fears that King Daeron will spit on his sire’s tomb, but also a way of showing Ser Daemon that the enmities their father sought to foster could be buried with him, without any fear of Ser Daemon being cast into obscurity as a result.

        Had King Robert Baratheon shown as much judicious consideration to Lord Stannis, its hard to imagine relations between them souring as they did even if it IS Lord Grind-Tooth of whom we speak.

        • 1. I highly doubt that everyone who supported Daemon was incompetent. Indeed, the First Rebellion sort of proves otherwise.

          3. You’re welcome!

          4. Judicious consideration – I dunno, the marriage thing points the other way.

  13. Winnie says:

    Steve-I just wanted to say that besides this site, I’ve really enjoyed your posts at LGM as well-and NOT just those posts related AGoT.

    Anyway, if you ever wanted to start corresponding personally I’m game. Especially since I’ve been writing a fiction novel, (a thriller and trust me it’s no great epic but I’ve had fun writing it,) and since I’m nearly finished, I was wondering if you’d be interested in looking it over and giving me some feedback?!? Or not.



  14. Very excited about this new essay season Steven. I can see by the voluminous comments already that I’m not alone in finding the Blackfyres and the Golden Company to be very fascinating additions to Martin’s world.

    I read you article over lunch and during the afternoon it got me to thinking about the the contrast between the First Blackfyre Rebellion and Robert’s Rebellion. Specifically on how events unfolded, leading to actual armed conflict. While every conflict in (real or fictional) history has dozens of root causes, timelines always unfold differently to go from ‘tensions rising’ to ‘open warfare’.

    With Roberts Rebellion there was of course the Southron Ambitions alliance emerging, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that there were plans for full scale regime change. It was only due to Aerys’ escalating paranoia (sharpened by the potentially moderating absences of either Tywin & Rhaegar) backing this informal coalition into a corner that caused the banners to be called. I feel that we can see this in how the SA alliance decided on who would be king after deposing Aerys. When we here Ned referencing that Robert had “the best claim” suggests to me that there was at least some sort of discussion between Ned, Robert, Jon, Hoster and their top lords on whom specifically should sit the Iron Throne.

    Compare this to the First Blackfyre Rebellion where we essentially see a shadow government emerging over the course of several years, building a constituency, and essentially preparing for the opportunity to make a bid for the throne.

  15. Abbey Battle says:

    To quote the gumshoe, “One more thing”:-

    As I understand it Aegon the Fourth (then merely Prince Aegon) was not actually obliged to set aside Casella Vaith, later Lady of the Red Sands – he in fact handed her over along with the other hostages expected to pay the penalty for their kinsmen’s treachery in negotiations with King Daeron the First (having been outraged by the murder of his cousin AND grown tired of Lady Casella to boot).

    A minor detail, I know, but it did quibble away at my recollection.

  16. Amestria says:

    Looking forward to the next one.

  17. Amestria says:

    Have a nice little resolution of the question of why Bloodraven remained Maekar’s Hand. After Maekar became King Bloodraven did spend some time imprisoned for excesses, much like Davos. But in the end Bloodraven was too valuable (and, in a way, too “loyal” to the Ts) and Bittersteel too dangerous for King Maekar to throw him away with another war looming over his head and the situation with the succession looking increasingly iffy. So he swallowed his dislike and summoned Bloodraven back into office.

    • Sean C. says:

      I don’t think this is really a problem in need of a solution like that. Bloodraven and Maekar’s rivalry is something we only hear about in rumours from other people, and many such rumours are very overstated. Even in Maekar was unhappy about being undervalued, he’d have plenty of time to grow out of that when he became clearly the heir to the throne, which happened several years before his ascension.

      • Roger says:

        Maekkar wasn’t happy about becoming king. According to maester Aemon, he considered the crown a goldy punishment for killing his brother in Ashford.

  18. Andrew says:

    1. The Dornish didn’t seem to get that underhanded tactics like attacking a peace banner are usually guarantees for the war to continue when it leaves the families and subjects of the victims wanting retribution. Again, the Dornish were extremely lucky in this case with regards to Baelor.

    2. Daeron II may have paid more attention to his grandfather than his father with regards to ruling. He seems more Viserys II’s grandson than the Unworthy’s son. Daeron’s relationship with his father is comparable to Tywin’s in choosing to not become him.

    3. I agree he did push for it too hard and too fast. He should have constructed it in a way to make it appear the Targaryens came out more on top. He could have encouraged Marcher lords to intermarry with the Dornish.

    4. As to Daemon’s legitimization and being given the king’s sword having an Arthurian ring to it, GRRM described Daemon’s helmet as having bat-like dragon wings on it. That gives a possible reference to Arthur’s bastard son, Mordred, who led a rebellion against Arthur to seize the kingdom. The sword itself is another subversion of the magic sword=divine right trope.

    5. Aegon may have preferred Daemon over Daeron for one other thing other than Daemon being the warrior prodigy Aegon always wanted in son: Daemon kept his mouth shut about his father’s policies.

    • Ethan Cohen says:

      I’m sure the Dornish expected the war to continue with the next Targaryen coming for vengeance, but that wouldn’t really be any worse than the situation they already faced: losing badly in a fight for national existence against bitter enemies who had been wiping out whole villages over four years of occupation.
      Killing Daeron would throw the invading army into confusion until a new king was crowned and a new commander installed, giving the Dornishmen time to regroup, and the commander would be unlikely to share the Young Dragon’s tactical brilliance. The northerners weren’t likely to leave as long as they were winning, and also seemed unlikely to stop winning as long as Daeron was in charge.

      • Andrew says:

        Where do we hear of whole villages being wiped out in Daeron’s campaign? I don’t see that in Daeron’s campaign, but in Aegon’s.

        Killing Daeron under a peace banner would normally guarantee an even more violent campaign with more scorched earth tactics. That is not a strategy to end a war, but prolong it; the short-term benefits would be outweighed by the long-term losses. They could have tried capturing him, which would hamper his campaign and likely be of more use than just murdering him. That is what the English did with King John the Good in the Battle of Poitiers, and it did weaken French resistance and the French royal government began to turn on itself with different factions working against each other.

        Viserys, Daeron’s Hand, was still alive as was his commander Oakenfist, whose ships took the Greensblood. Even Stannis admits it was ships that earned Daeron his victory over Sunspear.

  19. Ethan Cohen says:

    I think that you underestimate King Daeron. Given the factors that led to the rebellion, we could easily have seen a major portion of Blackfyre’s support coming from the Stormlands; they have a history of conflict with Dorne and their culture glorifies martial qualities as much or more than anywhere else in Westeros. What we find instead is a Dondarrion wife for the heir to the throne and almost no support for Blackfyre. As you note, the Reach lords took the greatest share of the losses and stood to gain the most in the Young Dragon’s conquest, so their enmity is currently more bitter. Daeron sees this and efficiently splits the war-party, bringing those who are amenable into his camp and isolating those who would be hardest to appease. Supporting wars and giving patronage that would strengthen his die-hard opponents might make rebellion less likely, but certainly more dangerous. Instead, he minimizes their access to resources, strips away their allies, and strengthens his supporters.

    • Abbey Battle says:

      I agree with the above, but I do agree that it’s at least theoretically possible that King Daeron the Second could have done more to conciliate those left out in the cold by his Dornish policies – on the other hand I would like to suggest that the speed with which he moved towards Unification was in part intended to forestall opposition to it (making it a fait accompli before an opposition could organise itself to block it) and in part a reward for the consistent support shown him by the Dornish during his years in political opposition to his Father.

      Quite frankly its very unsurprising that King Daeron the Second was more generous to The Dornish than to his Fathers old associates, since this seems to be no more than quid pro quo for their consistent support of him and an excellent investment, considering the consistent loyalty they would display towards him in the future.

      As a note I personally consider King Daeron’s betrothal of his sister to the Prince of Dorne the only sensible attachment he could contrive for her – how else could he put her utterly beyond any serious chance of being seized by those who favoured Ser Daemon’s suit? (and as you yourself noted, marrying Princess Daenerys to Daemon Blackfyre would have been political SUICIDE – he might as well have just handed over his crown and seated The King who bore the Sword with his own two hands!).

      • Ethan Cohen says:

        It may be theoretically possible, if Daeron were a master politician of extraordinary charisma, but I still think it would be too risky. In a starkly divided political climate, trying to please everyone is usually a fool’s task. Any patronage he bestows on the Reach lords strengthens them without guaranteeing an end to their resentment, and takes away from his ability to reward his own loyal supporters. He could probably have done significantly better in the Riverlands, though, had he paid more attention there.

        As for foreign engagements to keep the warriors busy, there are two options:
        If Daemon leads his forces to victory, he comes back stronger than ever, his martial prestige (and the accompanying contrast to Daeron’s lack thereof) strengthened and his supporters formed into an experienced and organized force.
        On the other hand, if Daeron is able to goad Daemon into a fight he can’t win, playing on the fearless warrior’s pride, then he risks getting dragged into a costly and difficult war against a serious foreign power that might not go back into its box once it has served his domestic purposes.

        Perhaps he could have arranged for Daemon to live in and fight for Tyrosh. Daemon might have agreed; it would give him the chance to go win glory on the field and he doesn’t seem to have really nursed royal ambitions before Bittersteel and Fireball went to work on him, although it sounds like he wasn’t all that thrilled with his marriage. I think that Daeron was doing an effective enough job at marginalizing his opposition that they would have had no chance of organizing a serious rebellion without a figurehead as powerful as Daemon. Daemon busy fighting Lys and Myr would be less interested in Westerosi politics, and Daemon with foreign manners and foreign loyalties would be less viable as figurehead even if they could recruit him. Still, unclear that Daeron could have set it up in the first place. Maybe he tried, but Daemon or the Archon of Tyrosh refused.

  20. […] of the Hand: Apropos: Steven Attewell (Race for the Iron Throne) hat eine ausgedehnte Serie über die Blackfyre-Rebellionen veröffentlicht, das wohl spannendste […]

  21. […] question about the Blackfyre Rebellions. On the one hand, we know that the rebellion was at least partly inspired by lingering resentment toward the Dornish, and that the Martells would decisively back the Red […]

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