Join Date: Dec 2006
Re: A Song of Ice and Fire books
I just read this really interesting theory with compelling evidence that Robert's Rebellion may have been in the planning years before Rhaegar stole Lyanna. It is a theory born out of Lady Barbrey Dustin saying Eddard had "southron" ambitions. In summary, it is believed it was intended for Westeros to unite together with Rhaegar and force the Mad King out of power. It wasn't supposed to be a violent overthrow of the dynasty but Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, Tywin's resigning the handship and going to brood in Casterly Rock and the death of both Rickard and Brandon were serious setbacks. It's possible Ary's got wind of this and this is why he killed Rickard and Brandon and demanded Robert and Eddard. If you have read ADWD then read this:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
In A Dance with Dragons, we learned that Lady Barbrey Dustin hates the Stark family and especially Eddard Stark for first not letting her marry Brandon Stark and then dragging her forced husband into the rebellious war of Robert Baratheon. While it may seem possible that the anger about her dead husband is only a surrogate for something she doesn't wish to reveal, she tells Theon some conspiracy theories that make more sense than they should, and which fill the reader with a sense of unease. In short: there seems to be more about the outbreak of the rebellion than we originally knew. It seems like Aerys' summoning of people to the court was not just the product of an insane mind, but also the very real backlash against something that was going on before. In fact, what Lady Dustin calls "southron ambitions" of Lord Rickard Stark seems to be not so much a conspiracy theory of hers than reality. And it's rewarding to go into it.
First, let's recollect what we think to know about the rebellion. When Rhaegar Targaryen abducted or seduced Lyanna Stark, Brandon rode to the Red Keep with his companions, challenging Rhaegar to duel and was instead imprisoned. Rickard was then summoned to court and executed together with Brandon. Aerys then demanded Eddard and Robert, both wards of Jon Arryn, who refused and instead rebelled. Eddard rallied the North, Robert conquered first the Stormlands back in the three battles of Summerhall and then marched to meet with the armies of Eddard and Hoster Tully. The latter had changed sides to the rebel's cause for the marriage of Jon Arryn to Lysa Tully and in turn conquered his own Riverlands before. In the Battle of the Bells, they managed to unite their forces and then win the final battle at the Trident, the result of which prompted Tywin Lannister, who had stayed neutral, to side with the rebels.
Now, some things about this are odd. One does not wonder about them initially, since none of the characters do; for them, it's just how things happened and no survivor is around to ask. But there is actually a prelude to these events. Let's go a few years before the tourney of Harrenhal. Not many, just three or four at most. There are several great lords, all knowing each other better than usual because they fought together in the War of the Ninepenny Kings a few years prior. Jon Arryn, Steffon Baratheon, Rickard Stark, Hoster Tully and Tywin Lannister are all war buddies. With the exception of the latter, they seem to have taken kind of a friendship out of this war. At least this would explain why they sent each other wards: Eddard and Robert both went to the Eyrie for fostering. Robert was in love to Lyanna and talks of a betrothal were conducted. And Hoster wanted to wed his daughters to the heirs of Winterfell and Casterly Rock, respectively.
This is highly unusual, but again, for the protagonists of the novels this is just how it happens, and they don't seem to spend a lot of thought about it. If we look into the relations of the great houses under normal circumstances, they rarely marry each other. In fact, they normally marry with their own bannermen. Hoster Tully, for example, wed Minisa Whent. Tywin Lannister even wed into his own family with Joanna Lannister, a cousin of his. Steffon Baratheon wed Cassana Estermont. Rickard's wife is unknown, but her mother was of Clan Flint. Mace Tyrell wed Alerie Hightower. Balon Greyjoy was married to Alannys Harlaw. On a smaller scale, the same is true most of the time for the bannermen themselves; they rarely marry into other kingdoms. This is important, because the political influence and stability in their own domain is of paramount importance for all of the lords in a kingdom. Marrying others is only useful in two cases: if you want to seal a peace or if you want to seal an alliance. Otherwise, you don't do this, because gaining or retaining influence with your own vassals is more important. This is especially true of a remote kingdom like the North.
And yet, suddenly, Lord Rickard marries one son with House Tully and sends the other to foster with House Arryn, both happening to be the direct neighbors of the North. There is no peace to seal, and just being buddies with both lords by war doesn't exactly justify this. Thinking of the matter like that, Lady Dustin's claim that Rickard harbored "southron ambitions" suddenly can be viewed in a wholly different light. What exactly was happening in these years that five major houses at least considered forging an alliance? Remember, Jaime Lannister was supposed to marry Lysa Tully before he took the white of the Kingsguard! This would have brought the Lannisters into the alliance as well, leaving out only House Greyjoy, which is irrelevant, and House Martell, which can't be trusted from their perspective, and House Tyrell. The latter had no children in the right age bracket to be included into the alliance making, which may be a contributing factor to why they were left out, and they couldn't stand against five united houses anyway. But what was the intent of this alliance?
To understand this, we have to go back into A Feast for Crows, in which Jaime remembers Rhaegar leaving the Red Keep for the Trident. Rhaegar announced that once the battle was done, he intended to call a council to make changes. We never learn what changes he wanted to make since the battle turned out badly, but it's not a long shot to assume that he wanted to get rid of his father and to include all the major houses in it - which could be just what the five houses had in mind, too. With their power combined, they could exert political pressure without really going to war or undertaking other drastic measures like this, and force Aerys to either make concessions or to resign for Rhaegar. It's unlikely that they had a change of dynasties in mind; that turn of events was Aerys' doing when he killed Rickard and Brandon and demanded Robert and Eddard. It drove the stakes higher than anyone imagined before. But the idea of a political alliance against Aerys to turn the realm into something better would fit into the picture.
Let's dwell in that idea for a while. Until now, we just looked at the persons representing the major houses and what they did, but there are at least two persons behind the scenes of which we know who also seemed to have agendas that fit into this: Varys in King's Landing and Rickard's Maester Walys. The former we all know; the eunuch in King's Landing is there like forever and whispers into Aerys' ear. His constant claims that he wants only to keep the peace and his attempts of restoring the dynasty with a boy specifically groomed for the job make them something like believable. It would fit into the picture that Varys did indeed fuel Aerys' paranoia by pointing out people standing in the way of this scheme. This would mean that Aerys got rid of the people that would have been able to protect him. Even the idea of taking Jaime from Tywin to estrange him from Aerys could have been a part of this broader scheme. Of course, this is highly speculative, and it requires the existence of yet another person, at least, with whom to scheme.
Lady Dustin's contempt for Rickard Stark and the Stark family in general is only topped by her loathing for Rickard's maester, Walys. This person whom we'd never heard of prior to A Dance with Dragons is made responsible for the Tully marriage and thus fueling Rickard's ambitions. We don't know much about Walys, but it's not too unlikely that he was able to communicate with Varys somehow, and even with Grand Maester Pycelle, who saw himself as a true servant of House Lannister which was viewed as an ally at that time.
Since this story is A Song of Ice and Fire, even plans made by Varys and comparable master schemers fail. If this big plan was ever constructed like that, it clearly failed. Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, Tywin's resigning the handship and going to brood in Casterly Rock and the death of both Rickard and Brandon must have been a serious setback. Suddenly, the potential alliance of five was reduced to only two. The Starks were personally involved and could not draw back anymore, but Hoster Tully was all but a very loyal man: obviously, the marriage between Brandon/Eddard and Catelyn did not move him to go to war instantly. He instead bartered with Jon Arryn. Arryn himself was ready and picked up the cause when Aerys commanded him to turn over his wards. But one question remains unanswered still: why did Aerys demand Robert Baratheon in the first place?
If we accept the idea of a scheme being hatched and Jon Arryn being a vital part in it, we have to acknowledge the idea that Robert did not meet Lyanna Stark by chance. Most likely she visited her brother Eddard at the Eyrie at some time, and there Robert learned to know her. We know that Robert easily loves something and wants to have it badly, and perhaps he was even encouraged subtly. Rickard, who may well have been in contact with Jon Arryn, could have already brokered the idea of a marriage between the two. That way, House Stark would have been married to two great houses - Tully and Baratheon - and bound to another by wardenship. Since Elbert Arryn was a constant companion of Brandon Stark, without us ever knowing why, the theory gains even more ground. It's never explicitly mentioned but possible that Elbert Arryn was a ward or at least guest in Winterfell for quite some time. The relations between the three houses of Baratheon, Stark and Arryn were stronger than most relations in the Seven Kingdoms ever become. Since Robert was the adolescent overlord of the Stormlands, influencing him had to be an easy exercise for Jon Arryn. Of course, Aerys doesn't seem like the guy to make such rational thoughts. If we accept Varys or someone else to be a part of this, giving Aerys the idea to demand Robert too and place the Stormlands into the camp of Arryn and Stark is just the move you want to make - or not to make, if you are a Targaryen king facing a rebellion.
The demand of Aerys immediately put three houses together on one side. They counted on the Tullys, too, and perhaps hoped for Lannister neutrality or alliance. The Tullys were not as eager to go into it, which may be attributed to their exposed geographical position and the fact that the outbreak of the rebellion was nothing like they planned (if they planned), so he may have felt betrayed and/or at least used, since the Riverlands were likely to get the first blow. The whole affair was terribly rushed and chaotic, but Jon Arryn had crossed the Rubicon. Eddard and Robert, both adolescent and by fate now heads of their houses and kingdoms, were both mere pawns of Jon Arryn, too young and inexperienced to notice what happened, especially since it was in their best interest (Eddard's, at least). Both regarded Jon Arryn as a larger-than-life father figure even as late as A Game of Thrones, fifteen years later. That's a fierce devotion, which had to be even stronger in the days when they actually lived with him. Jon Arryn brokered the alliance with House Tully by marrying Lysa, and now the alliance was four houses strong. Two others stayed outside of the conflict - Lannister and Greyjoy - and one - Martell - was doubtful and had to be convinced into the war by Rhaegar himself, since Aerys had estranged the Dornish over and over again. Only Tyrell was true to Aerys, but Mace Tyrell didn't take a terribly big risk by taking a huge part of his host to Storm's End and sitting there.
It's not entirely clear what the war aim at that point was. Perhaps Arryn and other schemers still hoped to overthrow Aerys and to restore Targaryen dynasty, perhaps with more freedoms and privileges for the kingdoms, strengthening their autonomy. All these plans went out the window when Lyanna died and Rhaegar was slain, however. Eddard's fury was second only to Robert's, who would not suffer one Targaryen to survive and grew into the natural contender for the throne in exchange for the Targaryen dynasty as a whole. Perhaps Jon Arryn still hoped to be able to broker a compromise after the Trident, restoring some peaceful order under Targaryen rule, but it was blown to hell when Tywin Lannister made his own step and conquered King's Landing, murdering all Targaryens present in the city. No one anticipated that move, but it created a fait accompli. There was no turning back, and the Targaryen dynasty had to be removed as a whole.
Whatever Rickard Stark's "southron ambitions" had been, however, they had not come into fruition. Eddard retreated to Winterfell, grieving over the death of Lyanna and with no taste for power, returning Winterfell into an essentially isolationist position without any stakes south of the Neck. Jon Arryn brokered the marriage between Robert and Cersei Lannister, thereby creating a new alliance to rest the new dynasty on, an alliance that would prove very unstable. The loss of his own heirs Elbert and Denys weakened his dynasty severely, and the bad marriage with Lysa Tully let it face extinction. Hoster Tully too seems to have reverted to his own business, Mace Tyrell was excluded from the affairs anywhere, and the peace Jon Arryn made with Dorne was basically treating Dorne as if it was no part of the kingdoms at all. If the houses had ever aspired a better foundation for a lasting peace in the whole realm, this dream was shattered at the end of Robert's Rebellion. The "southron ambitions" had brought no benefit for the North, and the affairs of the realm stayed in the hands of those willing to take it. Jon Arryn was content with upholding a peace that became more and more facade, and his inevitable death finally destroyed the balance of power, giving way to the Lannister rise and the demise of Houses Stark and Baratheon.
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Last edited by Marvolo; 03-17-2013 at 07:34 PM.