I just read this theory on Reddit by user rodesiderose and thought it had to be posted here. What does everyone think?
This is one of my super crackpot theories. When I thought of this I laughed for a while. Then I thought I should pen it down. If you expect a fool-proof theory stop reading right now.
In the books, we have met three High Septons so far. The first was killed in a riot (ACOK). The second High Septon was smothered in his sleep (AFFC). And since then, there has been a new High Septon in Kings Landing.
There is little we know of the current High Septon. The person who occupies the position of the High Septon is usually elected. However this High Septon seems to have got the position without any formal election process, just with the support of the sparrows.
Qyburn’s whisperers claimed that Septon Luceon had been nine votes from elevation when those doors had given way, and the sparrows came pouring into the Great Sept with their leader on their shoulders and their axes in their hands.
Anointing the King
When Aegon the Conqueror first came to Westeros, the High Septon locked himself within the Starry Sept of Oldtown and prayed for seven days and seven nights. When he emerged from prayer, he anointed Aegon as the true King in Oldtown. This tradition of anointing the King by the High Septon was carried on since the days of Aegon the Conqueror. However, the new High Septon has not performed the ritual of blessing Tommen as the King. Much to Cersei’s discomfort. Even though this is merely a ritual, it is an important event in the eyes of the common people.
“He feeds them, coddles them, blesses them. Yet will not bless the king.” The blessing was an empty ritual, she knew, but rituals and ceremonies had power in the eyes of the ignorant. Aegon the Conqueror himself had dated the start of his realm from the day the High Septon anointed him in Oldtown. (Cersei: AFFC)
When Cersei asks the High Septon on why he failed to bless Tommen as King, he replies that ‘the hour is not yet ripe’.
[Cersei] “..and yet you have refused to bless King Tommen.”
[High Septon] “Your Grace is mistaken. We have not refused.”
[Cersei] “You have not come.”
“[High Septon]The hour is not yet ripe.” (Cersei: AFFC)
Could the High Septon be waiting for the true King?
It has been hard to figure the motivations of this character, who seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Is he working with Varys or another player?
Who is this High Septon?
When Cersei meets the High Septon, she describes him as a short man, thin as a broom handle (reed thin?), with a grey and brown beard that is closely trimmed and his hair tied in a knot. His face was sharply pointed, and his eyes as ‘brown as mud’.
“He is cleaning the floor.” The speaker was shorter than the queen by several inches and as thin as a broom handle. “Work is a form of prayer, most pleasing to the Smith.” He stood, scrub brush in hand. “Your Grace. We have been expecting you.”
The man’s beard was grey and brown and closely trimmed, his hair tied up in a hard knot behind his head. Though his robes were clean, they were frayed and patched as well. He had rolled his sleeves up his elbows as he scrubbed, but below the knees the cloth was soaked and sodden. His face was sharply pointed, with deep-set eyes as brown as mud. His feet are bare, she saw with dismay. They were hideous as well, hard and horny things, thick with callus. “You are His High Holiness?” (Cersei: AFFC)
When Brienne heads to Duskendale from Rosby, she meets a septon who has a similar description to the High Septon. This man asks Brienne and her companions to join the sparrows headed to King’s Landing
The septon had a lean sharp face and a short beard, grizzled grey and brown. His thin hair was pulled back and knotted behind his head, and his feet were bare and black, gnarled and hard as tree roots. (Brienne: AFFC)
The physical description of the High Septon reminds me of crannogmen. When Bran meets Meera and Jojen in Winterfell he notices how the Reeds were short of stature. Meera is short, slim, and has her brown hair knotted behind her.
As the newcomers walked the length of the hall, Bran saw that one was indeed a girl [Meera], though he would never have known it by her dress. She wore lambskin breeches soft with long use, and a sleeveless jerkin armored in bronze scales. Though near Robb’s age, she was slim as a boy, with long brown hair knotted behind her head and only the barest suggestion of breasts.
Her brother was several years younger and bore no weapons. All his garb was green, even to the leather of his boots, and when he came closer Bran saw that his eyes were the color of moss, though his teeth looked as white as anyone else’s. Both Reeds were slight of build, slender as swords and scarcely taller than Bran himself. (Bran: ACOK)
Taena Merryweather tells Cersei that the High Septon was born with filth beneath his fingernails. If he were born in the swampy marshes of the Neck that would not be surprising. Could the High Septon be a crannogman, one we already know?
[Taena] “My lord husband tells me this new one was born with filth beneath his fingernails.” (Cersei: AFFC)
When the High Septon meets Cersei, she complains about the filth at the Great Sept of Baelor due to the sparrows. Surprisingly, the High Septon tells Cersei that the stains of Ned Stark’s execution could never be cleansed off the Great Sept of Baelor, even if the dirt and grime brought by the sparrows could be washed away.
They are common, we agree on that much. “Have you seen what they have done to Blessed Baelor’s statue? They befoul the plaza with their pigs and goats and night soil.”
“Night soil can be washed away more easily than blood, Your Grace. If the plaza was befouled, it was befouled by the execution that was done here.”
He dares throw Ned Stark in my face? “We all regret that. Joffrey was young, and not as wise as he might have been. Lord Stark should have been beheaded elsewhere, out of respect for Blessed Baelor… but the man was a traitor, let us not forget.”
“King Baelor forgave those who conspired against him.” (Cersei: AFFC)
This High Septon seems to have a strange fondness for Ned Stark, even though Ned Stark kept the Old Gods. Maybe cause he is Ned’s old friend, Howland Reed.
It is strange to see that there has been no sign of Howland Reed so far. The last we know is Robb Stark asking his two messengers (Maege Mormont and Galbert Glover) to deliver a message to Howland Reed, and have Howland send him guides to help his army navigate through the bogs. When Glover asks Robb if Howland would fail him, he replies that the crannongman would never fail him.
Galbart Glover rubbed his mouth. “There are risks. If the crannogmen should fail you…”
“We will be no worse than before. But they will not fail. My father knew the worth of Howland Reed.” (Catelyn: ASOS)
We also know that the message Robb sent to Howland Reed was highly significant. Whether Howland Reed received this letter is something we don’t know for certain. Another letter of interest is the letter Ned Stark wrote before his execution. We don’t know if that letter was intended for Howland Reed either.
When Bran recalls what he had been taught about crannogmen, he remembers that crannogmen never fight in open battles. They are called a cowardly people because they hide from their foes.
He tried to recall all he had been taught of the crannogmen, who dwelt amongst the bogs of the Neck and seldom left their wetlands. They were a poor folk, fishers and frog-hunters who lived in houses of thatch and woven reeds on floating islands hidden in the deeps of the swamp. It was said that they were a cowardly people who fought with poisoned weapons and preferred to hide from foes rather than face them in open battle. And yet Howland Reed had been one of Father’s staunchest companions during the war for King Robert’s crown, before Bran was born. (Bran: ACOK)
I don’t think we will see Howland Reed raise an army of crannogmen, and head to King’s Landing. Nor will we see him in open battle. I think Howland Reed plans to avenge the Starks, and also get to the bottom of what is really happening at King’s Landing. As High Septon, whatever punishment he metes out to Cersei, is one she must accept. (Her ‘walk of shame’ punishment eerily reminiscent of the way her Lord father Tywin Lannister had once stripped his father’s mistress naked, and paraded her across Lannisport.)
By abolishing the law that prevents the Faith Militant from taking up arms, Howland (as High Septon) has a bigger army (The Faith Militant) than the Lannisters do at King’s Landing currently. When Jaime left for the Riverlands, he took the greater part of the Lannister host with him.
“The new High Septon has revived them. He’s sent out a call for worthy knights to pledge their lives and swords to the service of the Seven. The Poor Fellows are to be restored as well.” (Jaime: AFFC)
Howland Reed as High Septon is the most powerful man in King’s Landing right now. And I think he has a few tricks lined up his sleeve while he makes the Lannisters pay their debts, and prepares the way to reveal the true heir of Rhaegar Targaryen.