My theory is that Cersei’s downfall was the direct result of a plot by the Tyrells, specifically Marge, with the help of Olena, and Loras. There is significant evidence to support this and with careful reading of the Cersei & Jamie POVs, the details of what really happened in Kings Landing can be surmised. Key to this is my conclusion that Marge is still a maid and that her maidenhead is intact. This theory has many twists and turns and I will try to guide the way through them.
Lets proceed chronologically. Prior to Tywins death, the Tyrells were working with Tywin to help improve the Tyrell position by including the Tyrells in the small Council. Tywin had invited Garth the Gross to be master of coin. I think that the Tyrells were very happy with the way they were being treated by Tywin. When Mace approached Cersei after the funeral, (pg106) she is extremely rude to him and immediately dis-invites Garth the Gross. Olena immediately realizes that Cersei is attempting to cut the Tyrells out of power. She disengages Mace and I think that this is where she decides that she needs to eliminate Cersei if the Tyrells are to have a share of the power.
At the end of that same chapter Cersei meets with Kevan. He says “I heard what happened at the hall of lamps.” (pg 112) While it is noted that there were several witnesses to the conversation between Mace and Cersei, Kevan’s claim that she shamed Mace in front of half the court seems to be an exaggeration. There were a limited number of witnesses who would have heard enough to know that Cersei shamed Mace. I think that this is a hint that the Tyrells have met with Kevan in the meantime. I don’t believe that Kevan is in on their intrigues, but I think that the Tyrells know that they would be better treated by Kevan than Cersei.
So the Queen of Thorns begins her plotting. She is very shrewd. She knows that if the Tyrells try to take power by force, that all Lanister supporters and loyal supporters of the throne will become enemies. The Tyrells certainly don’t want that. In fact I don’t they don’t want supreme power at all. I think that what they want is a say in the small council and to see the great grandson of the Queen of Thorn’s sitting on the Iron Throne. So they need to eliminate Cersei without it being obvious that they have eliminated Cersei. I think that at this point the plan is to somehow expose Cersei and to do that they would need spies.
Despite a very obvious effort to remove any Tyrell influence from her court, the Tyrells succeed in planting three spies in Cersei’s court. Taena Merryweather is the first and most important. She becomes a confidant and sounding board and has the power to reveal Cersei’s secrets and to manipulate her actions. When we first meet Taena she is among the Tyrells at the funeral. She tells Cersei that she is using her influence in the free cities to try to capture Tyrion. This endears her to Cersei. Remember that Cersei confuses what-she-wants-to-be-true with truth (pg235) and flattery with loyalty. A few well placed comments and Cersei forgets that the Merryweathers are Tyrell bannermen. Her offer to capture Tyrion(pg105) and her outing of Senelle(pg 180) convince Cersei of her loyalty and get Taena and her husband Orton into Cersei’s inner circle.
In addition to Taena and Orton, I believe Aurane Waters is also loyal to the Tyrells. While I don’t think that he is directly involved with the court intrigues, I think that he is influenced by the Tyrells and would defer to them rather than to Cersei. A clue to this is that the first time we see Aurane Waters he is sharing a cup with Elinor, one of Marge’s ladies-in-waiting.
After Tommen & Marge’s wedding Taena outs the Tyrell spy Sellene and Cersei buys this hook line and sinker.(pg180) Taena also tells Cersei that her loyalty is to her husband and that her relationship to the Tyrells is purely an obligation and that she will do anything to keep her station.(pg 181)
At this point I believe that the Tyrell plot consists of finding something to bring Cersei down. Taena’s mission is to infiltrate Cersei’s confidence, find some high crime that they can expose and if nothing else, entrap Cersei. She might even be specifically be looking for proof of the incest between Jamie & Cersei. If nothing else, she would be in a position to entrap Cersei by enticing her to commit some crime that would topple the queen. It seems to be working, for when Jamie visits his sister in Maegor’s holdfast and hears the word about Bronn naming Lolly’s child Tyrion, Taena is visiting with Cersei as if they were old friends (pg 230).
The Queen of Thorns leave Kings Landing at this point. Cersei certainly believes that she has left. However, Marge and her group often take trips into the Kings Forest and elsewhere. (pg424) If Olena is hidden in or near Kings Landing, she could be visited on these trips.
One of the funniest lines I ran across in researching this is on pg 141. Cersei congratulates herself on removing all the “roses” from the small council, and the first two members of the council she notices after that thought are Orton Merryweather and Aurane Waters, two “roses”.
Four other key things in this chapter. First, during the council meeting, Qyborn suggests sending 100 men to the wall. Cersei blurts out that this is an opportunity to depose Jon Snow from command, but then tells the council that she will handle to details.(pg 249)
Second, Taena offers to Cersei that she has a secret that she is not quite ready to share. The secret, the name of her first lover, is of a personal and sexual nature and has Cersei intrigued. (pg 250) She later fesses up during an evening of drinking.(pg254) What other secrets were shared that night? Was Taena fishing for a secret from Cersei?
Third, Cersei offers Osney herself if he can sleep with Marge and kill Jon Snow. This is when she launches her intrigues that will ultimately be her undoing.
Fouth, Taena is with Cersei when Osney arrives, so she knows that Cersei has a private audience with Osney. Later, Cersei asks Taena to pass Osney’s admiration to Marge. These two clues would let Olena figure out that Cersei is up to something with Osney. We see later how awkward Osney is (pg.586) With Osney making awkward advances at Marge and trying to be alone with her, the Tyrells would have to figure out that Cersei is trying to catch Marge in an infidelity.
The next bit of info about all of this comes when Taena & Cersei go to visit the High Septon. Cersei is going to negotiate for the “blessing” for Tommen. On the way there Cersei grills Taena about the state of Marge’s maidenhead. Taena assures Cersei that it must be broken. Either by horseback riding, Renly or perhaps even Loras. She lets slip that Pycelle often visits Marge. All of this entices Cersei to make a move against Marge and use her lack of virginity against her.
While visiting the High Septon, Cersei offers (is manipulated ny the High Septon?) to revoke Maegors’s law in exchange for debt forgiveness and an official blessing. This is important because arming the church is what empowers them to hold Cersei. When she is arrested, Cersei considers ordering the King’s Guard to rescue her, but realizes that the sparrows were to well armed for that.
Ironically, at the end of this chapter Cersei comes to the conclusion that the Tyrells conspired with Tyrion to murder Joffery. Her conclusions are based on paranoia and her own delusions, but she proves the saying that a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut.
At this point the Tyrell plot consists only of spying on Cersei and looking for a way to get her into the kind of trouble that would strip her of power. One possible problem is that if Cersei is put on trial for some crime, she might choose trial by combat, and one of the best swords of the King’s Guard is Ser Loras. The Tyrells don’t want Ser Loras to be in jeopardy.
The solution to this problem comes in the form of the worst possible news. The iron isles have attacked the Reach and threaten Old Town and Highgarden. Word comes to the small council in the middle of the night. Note the important tidbit that it was Marge’s messengers that roused the council. Marge and the Tyrells had this information before the rest of the council. Loras & Waters were more alert than the rest, Cersei notes. They had opportunity to plan amongst themselves. (Qyborn is also awake. Was he in on it? I don’t think so, but interesting to note.) Had they waited until the middle of the night when the council would be least alert?
Obviously the Tyrells want to send their forces to defend their land, but the Redwine fleet is engaged in the blockade of Storm’s End and Dragonstone. Mace Tyrell’s army is in siege at Storms End and Lord Tarly’s army is even farther from the Reach. Cersei will never allow the Tyrells to abandon their duty to Tommen. Loras, Orton and Marge manipulate Cersei to promise to “release Lord Redwine and his fleet when the castle [Deagonstone] falls.”
This is where Loras offers to take Dragonstone. This does three things for the Tyrells. First, it paces the King’s Navy in Loras’ command and gives legal backing to the fleet to follow his orders. Second it releases the fleet to deal with the squids. Third, it removes Loras from a position where he might have to defend Cersei’s life with his own. The last will take a bit more scheming, but the Tyrells take care of that soon.
Another tidbit from this chapter is that Cersei notes that Taena spends more time in Cersie’s bed than in Orton’s. They have become very close confidants. This is also the chapter where Cersei learn that Bronn has killed Balman and where Cersei rapes Taena.
The next we see of Cersei she is depressed by the grey weather until Aurane Waters arrives. (pg 529) The ship comes in on the evening tide and it appears that Waters has reported directly to Cersei. He tells of the capture of Dragonstone and the fall of Loras. This is important because if Cersei asks Loras to defend her in trial by combat, he cannot refuse. However there is nothing against his oath in refusing a request that is never made. Cersei has to believe that Loras is near death. There are no other witnesses to Waters’ report. Cersei takes on the task of telling Marge and the rest of her entourage. There are several witnesses to Cersei’s conversation with Marge. If it comes to be found out that Loras was not as badly injured as was reported the only one who can claim to have heard it from some other source than Cersei is Cersei. It will appear to have been a lie fabricated and propogated by her alone. She can claim that Waters told her, but Waters will be long gone.
The rest of the Tyrell plot consists of getting Cersei to make an overt move against Marge and specifically against Marge’s chastity, and if her maidenhead is still intact, these charges can easily be proven false. The objective of this is solely to weaken Cersei’s position. If Cersei can be exposed as plotting against the popular queen, it will weaken her power base. Taena might be questioned about Marge’s behavior and might have to reveal Cersei’s rape, etc. By exposing Cersei’s plotting, they will have diminished her ability to exert power.
The manipulation is fairly obvious. First is Pycelle’s confession about the moontea. (pg 576) Later, Taena suggest turning one of the cousins against the rest (pg 582). (Notice that at this point, Taena is party to the plot to frame Marge.) Lastly, Marge lets slip through Tommen that she is preparing for Maiden’s day at the Great Sept. (pg 585) This has the desired result of forcing Cersei to act before she has all of her plotting firmly in place and before Osney has completed his conquest of Marge.
I think that the Tyrells did not expect the situation with Osney. I think that they expected Cersei to send the Blue Bard to the High Septon and that Osney’s confession was simply part of Cesei’s incompetence. Had she sent the Blue Bard, and Marge had proven his accusations false, then the investigation into who was framing Marge would have lead back to Cersei and would have weakened her. The investigation might have turned up any number of things about Cersei, and in the event that Cersei is put on trial, the Tyrells have safely protected Loras. In Cersei’s blind attempt to really “screw” Marge, she ended up doing herself in instead.
This is what I believe really happened on the morning of Maiden’s day. Osney goes to confess to the high Septon his affair with Marge. Marge arrives and is examined and is found to be intact. The High Septon, in his eternal quest to vanquish sin begins an investigation into these false accusations starting by torturing Osney. (This is the bit that hung in my mind. Why would the High Sparrow torture a confessing sinner? No one would go to confession if they were at risk of torture. The High Septon tells Cersei that Osney was too happy about the confession, so he was tortured. That makes no sense, and I couldn’t resolve it at first. If Marge is intact, there is reason for the torture.)
So, Cersei’s sins are laid bare by the torture of Osney. Key among them are the murder of the previous High Septon, the infidelity and the conspiracy against Marge. Obviously the High Septon wants to take Cersei prisoner, but he doesn’t have the forces to walk into the Red Keep and take her. So he needs a way to trick her into coming to the Great Sept. Marge would be the bait. Marge would be held, accused of the crimes that Osney first brought against her. Arrest warrants would need to go out and Cersei planning the case against Marge would arrest all the right people to. Why not have Cersei do all the dirty work.
The next day Cersei went to visit Marge (pg 647)(Taena helped her dress) On the way Taena establishes with Cersei that Marge will need to have one of the King’s guard defend her in a trial by combat, establishing that Cersei is limited to Blount & Trant, when she herself is tried. The whole day Marge, Taena and the High Septon manipulate Cersei into setting the terms for her own arrest. “ ‘Must there be a trial?’ ‘How else will you prove your innonce?’ ”
The key to all of this is my belief that Marge is still a maid and more specifically her maidenhead is intact. I know that we are told in the text that it is not, but we are also told in the text that Tyrion was behind the attack on Bran and that Tyrion’s first wife Tysha was a whore. Both of these were lies by Littlefinger and Tywin respectively that we later come to find out are false. I think that the condition of Marge’s maidenhead is also lied about. Carsei is told by Septa Moelle that Marge had been inspected by 4 Septas and was found to be “broken” (pg 643) but Septa Moelle could have been lying. This would have been part of the attempt to get Cersei to the Holy Sept so that she could be arrested.
Well there it is. This thought-child was mothered by this nagging feeling that I had that there was something going on when the High Septon meets with Cersei and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Someone on this board wondered how seriously Loras was injured, and if his injuries could be a plot to keep him from having to defend Cersei. That was the seed that I needed to begin to deconstruct what really happened in Kings Landing.
I posted much of the above ideas a while ago ( http://asoiaf.wester...?showtopic=3311 )with mixed response and have since inserted part of my thoughts into threads where appropriate. This post is an attempt to gather all of those pieces into one coherent thread. As people respond to this thread, I will amend this first post so that there continues to be a single cohesive explanation of my speculation on this matter.
Edited by michael jon snow, 05 May 2006 - 02:40 PM.